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News Article
A Young Man To Emulate
A Young Man To Emulate

Barry Griffin Jr. had no reason not to excel academically. He is naturally ambitious with a go-getter personality. That coupled with his upbringing in a home with parents who were focused on education and gave him all the support he needed translated into a young man who was an honor student for the duration of his academic life.

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News Article
Swimmers take part in final meet before nationals
Swimmers take part in final meet before nationals

This past weekend, May 24-25, the Leno Corporate Services/Barracuda Invitational Swim Meet at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Swim Complex was the platform for swimmers trying to achieve times to qualify for the upcoming 42nd Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Bahamas National Swimming Championships.
Dion Gibson, president of the Barracuda Swim Club, stated: "We are grateful to Leno Corporate Services Limited for sponsoring our last meet of the swim season which was very successful. We welcome Leno to the 'Cuda' family, and we look forward to an ongoing partnership."
In the girls 8-and-under division, Salene Gibson of the Barracuda Swim Club and Liya Moncur of Swift Swimming walked away with the high point trophies. Stella Higgs of Swift Swimming was third. In boys 8-and-under division, Jake Thompson of Swift Swimming walked away with the high point trophy and Marvin Johnson of Blue Marlin Aquatics took the runner-up trophy.
Cecily Bowe of Swift Swimming won the high point trophy in the girls 9-10 division, and the runner-up was Kathryn Slatter of the Barracuda Swim Club. For the boys 9-10 division, Davante Carey of the Barracuda Swim Club took the high point trophy, and he was followed closely by his teammate, Ian Pinder, who took the runner-up trophy.
In the girls 11-12 division, Amber Pinder of the Barracuda Swim Club took the high point trophy with the runner-up trophies going to Sian Longley of the Barracuda Swim Club and Victoria Russell of Swift Swimming. In the boys 11-12 division, Joshua Roberts walked away with the high point trophy and Samuel Gibson of the Barracuda Swim Club took the runner-up trophy.
Tremaine Allen of Swift Swimming walked away with the high point trophy in the girls 13-14 division. The runner-up spot went to Maya Thompson of Swift Swimming. For the 13-14 boys, Gershwin Greene of the Barracuda Swim Club took the high point trophy and the runner-up trophy went to Nhyn Fernander of the Barracuda Swim Club.
In girls 15-and-over division, Anna Misiewicz took the high point trophy and the runner-up trophy went to Doran Reed. Both girls are members of the Barracuda Swim Club. In the 15-and-over boys, Drew Bastian of the Barracuda Swim Club received the high point trophy and Anibal Hernandez Valdes of Swift Swimming won the runner-up trophy.
The Barracuda Swim Club congratulates all of the swimmers and wishes everyone much success in the upcoming 42nd RBC Bahamas nationals to be held from Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 23, at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Swim Complex.

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News Article
Day six in Daegu

This was the day that The Bahamas Track and Field Team was supposed to medal at the IAAF Daegu World Championships.

Donald & Trevor
Donald Thomas and Trevor Barry had made it to the final of the High Jump.
Based upon their performances they were ready.
In speaking with world record holder Javier Sotomayor of Cuba, if Donald could jump 2.34m he could win. After all, Donald won four years ago in Osaka.
At the start of the High Jump at 7:10 p.m. it was certainly an evening made for competition. It was the right wind and the right temperature.
The competition was sure to be great as Ivan Ukov of Russia had a personal best of 2.40m indoors, two had done 2.37m, one 2.36m, three 2.35m, 2.33m, one 2.32m, two 2.31m and one 2.29m. One of the 2.35m were owned by 2007 World Champion Donald Thomas and the 2.29m, the least of the PR's was owned by Trevor Barry, whose coach Keith Parker touted that he would jump 2.32m sometime this summer.
As it would happen, Donald Thomas was eliminated early. He cleared 2.20m and then failed to clear 2.25m.
Barry cleared 2.25m and decided to pass 2.29m, his personal best.
The bar was moved to 2.32m, a jump Barry had never done in competition. This was the height personal coach Keith Parker said Barry would clear sometime this summer.

At that point Barry was in the lead.
After several persons cleared 2.32m the bar was moved to 2.35m. Only Jesse Williams from the USA, and Russia's Aleksey Dmitrix cleared 2.35m.
After Barry missed all of his jumps at 2.35m all the Bahamians in the stadium had their eyes fixated on the High Jump. One by one the other contenders attempted to clear 2.35m. The last person to attempt that height was Mustaz Essa Barshim of Qatar. When he missed the Bahamians in the stadium erupted with joy. This was to be our first medal!

The Women's 200m
While the High Jump was being contested the Women's 200m semi-final was being held. That morning all three Bahaman runners made it to the semi-final. Debbie Ferguson-Mckenzie had run 22.86sec for third place while Nivea Smith had run 23.09sec for fourth and Anthonique Strachan 23.20sec for fourth place to advance to the semi-final round.
Smith was the first to contend the semi-final. She ran in heat one and finished sixth with a 23.06sec after having run a slow start.
In Ferguson-Mckenzie's semi-final heat she ran 22.85sec for fourth place in heat two. Shalonda Solomon won in 22.66sec and Jamaica's Kerron Stewart finished second in 22.77sec.
Strachan ran 23.85sec for seventh place in heat three. This was one of the  slowest times of 2011 for the Austin Sealy Award winner who turned eighteen in Daegu on August 22nd.
Ferguson-Mckenzie moved on to tomorrow's final. She won a bronze medal in this event in Berlin two years ago, a bronze in Athens in 2004, and a Gold in Edmonton in 2001.
She is thirty-five years of age.

Men's Long Jump
In the morning in the Men's Long Jump Raymond Higgs jumped 7.72m in the qualifying round. Only two men did that standard or better. One was Dwight Phillips, who jumped 8.32m and the next person Mitchell Watt jumped 8.15m.

Phillips from the USA is the 2004 Olympic Champion and three time World Champion.
Automatic qualifying required a jump of 8.15m (26'9"), which was Higgs' personal best. His 7.72m placed him in twenty -fourth place.

Men's 4x400m Relay
In the Men's 4x400m relay, Ramon Miller started, Avard Moncur ran second leg, Andrae Williams the third leg, and LaToy Williams anchored. The team was considered a natural to win a medal, definitely to reach the final.
Miller ran a solid leadoff leg, passing off to Moncur, the 2001 World Champion in a good position. Andrae was unable to retain that position, and LaToy lost further ground, placing The Bahamas in fourth in 3:01.54 behind Belgium, Great Britain, and Russia, and out of the semi-final.
The Bahamas finished second in the

2005 and 2007 World Championships and were disqualified in the 2009 Championships for a violation in the exchange zone.
At the Beijing Olympics The Bahamas won the Silver medal with Michael Mathieu, Andrae Williams, Andretti Bain, and Chris Brown. Ramon Miller participated in the first round.
The National record for the event is 2:57.32 done in Helsinki by Moncur, Andrae Williams, Nathaniel McKinney, and Chris Brown. Troy McIntosh ran in the first round.  
Although the day had its successes it was difficult to forget the performance of the men's 4x400m relay team. To put the successes in perspective, Golden Girl Debbie Ferguson-Mckenzie made another 200m final.
More importantly Trevor Barry improved his personal best by three centimeters, from 2.29m to 2.32m. All of this happened while his personal coach Keith Parker was at home in bed in The Bahamas with Dengue Fever, and his coach on the team Ronald Cartwright was coaching at this level for his first time. Cartwright was so sick recently that he had to be approved by the BAAA physician to travel.
The tradition of Team Bahamas winning a medal in all World Championships since 1995 in Gothenburg continued.

Possible Medalists
Debbie Ferguson-Mckenzie participates in the final of the women's 200m tomorrow (Friday), Michael Mathieu participates in the first round of the men's 200m tomorrow (Friday), Triple jumper Leevan Sands participates in the qualification round on Friday, and the women's 4x100m is run on the final day, Sunday.
Several other competitions raised the eyebrows of the fans in Daegu Stadium.

Lahinda Demus
USA's LaShinda Demus ran 52.47sec for the women's 400m hurdles, the third best time in history. Melaine Walker of Jamaica, the Beijing Olympic Champion has the second best time in history of 52.42sec. Walker finished in second place with a 52.73sec clocking.

Yargeris Savigne
In the Women's Triple Yargeris Savigne has been one of the best in  recent times, winning two consecutive World Championships titles.
The Cuban's photo was on the front of the Daily Programme, and true to form she lost. Colombia's Catherine Ibarguen won the bronze medal with a jump of 14.84m, moving the South American's medal total to two.
Savigne finished with a jump of 14.43m after Mable Gay, her teammate who finished in fourth in 14.43m, and Brit Yamile' Adama who jumped 14.50m for fifth. Adama has jumped for Cuba, her native land, Great Britain, Sudan, and now is back with Great Britain again.

No USA Medalists
In the Men's 400m hurdles Brit David Green captured the event with a clocking of 48.26sec. Javier Culson from Puerto Rico won his country's second medal ever in the World's or Olympic Games when he finished second in 48.44sec.

South Africa's L.J. Van Zyl placed third in 48.80sec. Athens Olympic champion Sanchez finished fourth in 48.87.
This was an unusual competition since both Americans in the race, Angelo Taylor, who won both 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games did not medal, finishing in 49.24sec and 49.31sec, respectively.
There was one last image of the Berlin World Championships when 800m World Champion Caster Semenya of South Africa ran in a semi-final of the 800m. She finished second in 2:01.01.

We look forward to all the action in Daegu tomorrow.
Seoul,  North Korea
September 1st, 2011
Daegu, South Korea
Alpheus Finlayson
Media Relations
Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations

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News Article
Advocating for good causes and justice

I have been asked to address three questions:
1. What have you enjoyed most about your legal career?
The answer is simple: advocating for good causes and for justice.
My inspiration, my late grandmother, Georgiana Symonette would read: "But let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a mighty stream" (Amos 5:24).
She was saying: I want to see a mighty flood of justice; and she acted upon those words by fighting for universal suffrage and the right of women to vote, for majority rule, political freedom and independence, and for the economic and spiritual revolution or transformation still needed in this country. She inspired my father, her descendants and especially me even to this day. Most of all, she taught me about justice.
The challenges to justice are different every day. I am a business lawyer and never have a dull moment. But, I have had some of the most interesting jobs in the world, and I am actively working on many more. Each victory for justice is the foundation for a better society and for a better future. By helping others in need and protecting their legal rights, I continue to the best of my ability to contribute to the building up of a more just and fair Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
So, when Stone McEwan pointed out to me that our votes in general elections are not secret, I took on the challenge. We lost the battle but I think won the war by making the point emphatically that we should all not take our democratic rights for granted. The first instance decision by Sir Burton Hall is still in my view one of the most eloquent passages of Bahamian constitutional jurisprudence.
When Drs. Bacchus, a husband and wife team of a medical doctor and a dentist, told me that after about 30 years of service in Eleuthera, they were arbitrarily being transferred by the health minister to another island, I took on the challenge.
The Supreme Court quashed the minister's arbitrary decision, and, now retired, they remain a great benefit to the Eleuthera community.
There are many examples big and small.
Leona Neely had arthroscopic surgery on her knee when she slipped and fell because of an air conditioning puddle of water continuously left in the entrance lobby by her employer, the Ministry of Tourism. She was compensated for her pain and suffering, and the ministry finally fixed the faulty air conditioner.
As Acting Justice of the Supreme Court in charge of Freeport for most of 2007, I had the opportunity and privilege to reduce the backlog of civil cases to zero. Hundreds if not thousands of cases going all the way back to the mid-1990s when the court was first established, they were disposed of, and the court was current on the civil side.
Developed countries have public and private institutions for everything from human rights education to food production standards. You name it; there is an institution for it.
So, I have focused a lot on capacity building and institution building - vibrant, sustainable and just institutions to support, promote and strengthen our core values. For example, the Bahamas Bar Association still has a lot of unfulfilled potential that can be harnessed and put to good use.
This year marks the 13th anniversary of the monthly clinics I now call: Empowerment and Legal Aid Clinics. The first was held off Kemp Road at St. Bede's in January 2000. It was followed by clinics here at BFM (Bahamas Faith Ministries) spearheaded by Audrianna Pamela Thompson and others. I held such a clinic just last week at the Macedonia Baptist Church on Bernard Road.
The Bar is threatened from within and without. From within, some 'lawyers' do not really know what it is to be a lawyer, or if they do, they certainly do not apply the core values of integrity and honesty. From without, bad habits die hard. Although we have 1,100 lawyers - many highly qualified and experienced - mortgage institutions have imposed restrictions of inordinately huge amounts of professional indemnity insurance, for no apparent reason but to eliminate a wide swath of lawyers from their arbitrary lists of persons to do mortgage work. This harks back to the oligarchies of the 1950s, instead of looking forward to a vibrant and competitive present and future.
Therefore, to deal with these and other threats, I have decided to take up the challenge again of transforming the Bar Association and to put it on a path to becoming one of the best bar associations in the world. A good start has been made with the recent opening of the Bar buildings on Mackey Street.
Also, among my books, I have co-edited with the former law dean of the University of Windsor Canada, a book coming out at the end of this year on "Promoting Social Justice through the Law". Look for it. I have another one on social justice in the works.
2. What gives you the most satisfaction when you look back on your legal career?
The opportunities for public service, mostly at home, but also internationally in significant ways. I define public service broadly to include all of that part of my work for the public benefit. There is a lot of it.
For example, for more than 34 years, it has been my turn to teach others about justice - teaching and helping others, especially young people, reach their full potential. That gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. I am pleased that some are in this audience today.
At Mrs. Margaret Thatcher's funeral the passage was read (Ephesians 6:14). "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness."
I teach them constitutional law, corporate governance, company law and international law. But, the fundamental lesson is integrity, to gird your loins with truth.
I travel a lot - on average two countries a month over the past two years, almost as much as Dr. Munroe, whom I in fact ran into in the airport at least on one occasion. Was it Atlanta?
With Rachel Culmer and others, I revived the Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations, consisting of 17 mainly English-speaking jurisdictions.
We helped our Caribbean brothers and sisters and held conferences not only in Nassau but also in Trinidad, Barbados, Belize, St. Kitts and across the Caribbean.
I wear as a badge of honor that I am persona non grata in Fiji. I was the international observer of a trial there in about 2001 on behalf of the International Bar Association. As a result of that trial and the international attention it attracted, the military marched back to their barracks, democratic elections were held and democratic institutions were restored. But, since then, there have been more military coups, and the military leaders have declared that other human rights lawyers and I are not welcome. But, I wear it as a badge of honor, and hopefully democracy will be restored to Fiji and that will be rescinded.
I was in East Timor helping lawyers to establish a bar association in turbulent conditions; in Swaziland to support independence of the judiciary, the rights of women, and democracy against the most autocratic monarchy in the world; and in Uganda training young lawyers.
These were all public service. I had the privilege to write the international pro bono declaration, adopted unanimously by the International Bar Association in Buenos Aires in 2008, setting out standards for lawyers worldwide to provide services for the public benefit. As I usually do, I involved young lawyers in my work. I worked with Adrian Hunt, among others, on this successful project.
Then, I headed until last year one of two divisions of the International Bar Association (Public and Professional Interest Division) consisting of 40,000 lawyers and more than 200 bar associations. The positive public service impacts were global.
3. What does this recognition by BFM mean to you?
By recognition, you reinforce the actions and behaviors you most want. Isn't that what recognition is? Recognition is most meaningful when it comes from people who benefit from your behavior or have a direct interest in your achievements.
Therefore, I am deeply honored that Rev Dr. Miles Munroe and his team at BFM, notably my colleagues, Audrianna Pamela Thompson, Wence Martin, and Merritt Storr, see some value in my actions, behavior and achievements worthy of being reinforced and repeated.
I am very grateful to you. But I accept this honor with humility and not primarily on my own behalf, but on behalf of my wife of 40 years this year, family, staff, students and all the many persons who have helped to make my actions and behaviors fruitful and effective.
I warmly congratulate the other honorees - Godfrey Kelly, Mrs. Adderley and the family of the Hon. Paul Adderley and retired Justice Rubie Nottage. It is a privilege to be in such distinguished company. This honor was unexpected and possibly undeserved.
But, let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I thank you very much.
o Remarks by Dr. Peter Maynard upon being honored at Bahamas Faith Ministries' Legal Profession Day.

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News Article
Value added tax, part 2

Last week we examined the need for a new tax system in The Bahamas and gave an example of how value added tax, or VAT, would be calculated in practice.  In this article we examine the experience of Barbados in its transition to VAT and look at how we can apply those lessons to The Bahamas.  Finally, we present an argument for why the tax discussion should ultimately be extended to include modest corporate taxes.
In an excellent article recently published in The Tribune titled "Barbados's Lessons for The Bahamas over VAT", Dr. Nikolaos Karagiannis of Winston-Salem State University presented a detailed overview of the process that took our southern Caribbean neighbor to its new tax system.
VAT was introduced in Barbados at the beginning of 1997 at a standard rate of 15 percent (it has since been raised to 17.5 percent).  Among the reasons cited for its choosing to implement VAT was to reduce the complexity of the country's indirect tax system and to reduce the high level of duties and taxes on imported goods.
Serious discussions on tax reform began in earnest when Barbados underwent stabilization and structural adjustment under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1991.  In order to coordinate the extensive work of implementing a VAT, Barbados established a VAT Implementation Unit (VIU) in 1993. In January 1994, it entered a technical cooperation agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).  Under the agreement, loans were allocated for the design of the VAT system and to bolster the Customs and Excise Department.
When the Owen Arthur administration came to office in 1994, the implementation of VAT was postponed to mid-1996 while research continued on estimating the impact of the tax on revenues, prices and the productive sectors.  
The VIU started public relations outreach programs in May 1995, including the release of pamphlets and booklets, targeting four main target audiences: the private sector (retailers, manufacturers, importers and managers); the government sector agencies involved in the administration of the system; members of the general public (consumers) and finally the school system.  The VIU presented at workshops, seminars, as well as via television and radio to further educate the public and business community.  The major features of the new act were passed by the Barbados House of Assembly in September 1996 with effect on January 1, 1997.
The Bahamian context
Will Bahamians comply with a new and seemingly complicated tax?  Many are skeptical that we can effectively get companies and individuals to forward the correct amount of tax to the government when we struggle to collect existing property taxes.  As reported numerous times before, our government is owed some $400 million in past due property taxes according to the auditor general; much of that amount will probably never be recovered.
However, the reality may prove to be less problematic: only persons/businesses of the size and capability to adhere to good record-keeping (as measured by annual gross sales) will be included in the VAT system.  Around the Caribbean region, this minimum threshold is TT$200,000 in Trinidad and Tobago (approx. US$30,000), JM$144,000 in Jamaica (approx. US$2,000) and BD$80,000 in Barbados (US$40,000).  Given the higher average per capital GDP of The Bahamas, one can reasonably anticipate that our exemption threshold will be much higher than the rest of the Caribbean.
The Barbadian government was equally concerned with tax avoidance and evasion.  Only those traders who were registered, and who displayed a certificate of registration, were legally authorized to charge VAT on the taxable goods and services they were selling.  On the other hand, those traders who were not registered were paying VAT on the goods they were buying, but were not legally authorized to charge VAT on the goods they were selling, thereby squeezing their profits.
No doubt Bahamian business culture will need to be transformed.  Compared to Barbados, which already had a strong tax framework and a history of paying taxes, this nation is starting from the opposite spectrum in terms of tax familiarity and compliance.  The principle challenge for the business community will be record keeping; many companies will need to hire book-keepers or accountants while upgrading their point of sales or POS systems.  Ultimately we will need to force compliance by tying it to the renewal of business licenses, alongside rigorous and impartial execution of the law by the newly created tax authority.
The move forward
As the Bahamian economy is a predominantly services-driven one, the real challenge for our policymakers is to introduce a VAT system that can achieve economic, fiscal, social and developmental objectives, while avoiding any adverse effects on tourism and financial services.  As one example, VAT in Barbados was applied at a concessionary rate of 7.5 percent (now 8.75 percent) on accommodation in hotels, inns and guest houses.  The government will need to decide very carefully which goods and services would be zero-rated and therefore exempted to make sure that VAT is neither regressive, nor penalizing those who are at the lowest levels of income.
Beyond VAT, how do we get the greatest mileage out of the many tax information exchange agreements, or TIEAs, that our jurisdiction has signed?  One of the stated goals of the Bahamian financial services industry is to see companies locate their head and subsidiary offices within our shores.
Would that be an easier sell if we had a tax regime that allowed foreign companies to offset taxes paid in our jurisdiction when repatriating income?  For example, Barbados has a number of double taxation agreements, or DTAs, that are extremely favorable for certain types of investors.  These agreements promote cross border trade, avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion.
As a result of its 2000 DTA treaty with China, Barbados has emerged as the leading jurisdiction for offshore wholly foreign owned enterprise (WFOE) holding companies in China.  Under existing law, payments of dividends by a WFOE to its foreign owners are free of Chinese withholding tax.  Payments of interest to foreign lenders are subject to withholding at 20 percent, typically reduced to 10 percent under applicable tax treaties.  However, where a taxpayer qualifies for benefits under the Barbados-China treaty, the tax rates are reduced to five percent for dividends and 10 percent for interest.
The Bahamas should be able to compete in this space with the proper tax structure.  The current tax debate is an ideal time to examine the merits of corporate tax as a boost to our competitive advantage in an era where being a zero-tax country is now a liability.  This would allow the Bahamas to obtain tax income from foreign companies operating here at modest rates of 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent without increasing their overall tax burden since, by the DTA, the tax would be shared by our treasury and that of the home country.
Even as we move to a new tax system, we stress that the government will still need to be vigilant in controlling its spending and getting its fiscal house in order.  This is one reason why the so-called Tea Party in the United States is so adamantly against any form of tax increases, including any overhaul of the tax code which increases efficiency and as a consequence increases collection.  Instead, it feels the need to "starve the beast", as governments' natural inclination is to spend more than whatever revenue it takes in.
Referring to Barbados one last time, that country has a 17.5 percent VAT, 20 percent to 35 percent personal income taxes, 12.5 percent withholding on income and dividends, 15 percent to 25 percent local corporate taxes and import taxes on vehicles, spirits, tobacco and petroleum products. Nevertheless, they still had a 2010/2011 central government deficit of 8.5 percent of GDP and total government debt over 110 percent of GDP.  Clearly, getting the tax policy right is still only one side of the government's fiscal equation.
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:

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News Article
Team Bahamas displays a gold medal performance

The meals were cooked, the cocktails stirred and the pastries baked. The judges scored every detail of the "Taste of the Caribbean" culinary competition that led to The Bahamas picking up a bunch of medals with Chef Sheldon Tracey Sweeting leading the way picking up a gold medal at the recent regional competition in Florida.
Sweeting presented the judges with chocolate with Caribbean flavors in white, dark chocolate, lime and passion fruit Bavarian, banana ice cream, caramel, white chocolate, cream cheese, ganache, chocolate cake, spiced mango sauce, ginger pudding, buttered chocolate rumble, cinnamon tuille. His dessert was given a perfect score.
"It feels good," said Sweeting of the win. "It was six months of hard work, a lot of trial and error and refinement," he said. "I just wanted to make our country proud with it being our 40th anniversary."
The gold medal haul for The Bahamas amounted to four -- the Caribbean national team segment, culinary student, Dwayne Sinclair's gold medal in the junior chef of the year category and Jamal Small's gold medal and the win in the beef competition, along with Sweeting's pastry gold.
The team returned home with three silver medals --Emmanuel Gibson in the chef of the year contest; Charon McKenzie in the bartender of the year competition; and Ron Johnson in the cheesecake competition.
Three bronze medals were also in the haul, from Ancilleno Solomon in the ice carving competition; Ron Johnson in the seafood competition and a team bronze in the mystery basket rum competition.
The Bahamas also won the best use of chocolate award and the Tony Mack Spirit of the Competition award.
"We cleaned up a lot of awards. I thought we were going to win," said Sweeting. He said this year's results were the best by a Bahamian team in the 27-year history of the competition.
Barbados was crowned Caribbean Culinary Team of the Year. The highest individual honors were bestowed upon Jamaican Brian Lumley (Caribbean Chef of the Year); Puerto Rico's Roberto Rodriguez (Caribbean Bartender of the Year); Sweeting (Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year) and Trinidad & Tobago's Naomi Lovell (Caribbean Junior Chef of the Year).
The competition was held at the Hyatt Regency in Miami.

The list of winners
Winner -- Barbados
Gold medals -- Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago
Silver medals -- Anguilla, Curacao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, USVI
Bronze medals -- Bonaire

Chef of the year
Winner -- Brian Lumley, Jamaica
Gold medal -- Brian Lumley, Jamaica
Silver medals -- Lester Gumbs, Anguilla; Emmanuel Gibson, Bahamas; Andre Nurse, Barbados; Adriyel Lourens, Curacao; Joel Rodriguez, Puerto Rico; Jethro Daniel Wirth, Suriname; and Dennis Vanterpool, USVI.
Bronze medals -- Robertico Bernabela, Bonaire; Jeremy Lovell, Trinidad & Tobago

Bartender of the year
Winner -- Puerto Rico
Gold medals -- Roberto Rodriguez, Puerto Rico; Clinton Ramdhan, Trinidad & Tobago; Brandon DeCloux, USVI.
Silver medals -- Levon Richardson, Anguilla, Charon McKenzie, Bahamas, Rohan Hackshaw, Barbados, Tarimar Thom, Bonaire, Glenn Kemp, Curacao, Melissa Fletcher, Jamaica and Michel Marlon Blackson, Suriname.

Pastry chef of the year
Winner -- Sheldon Tracey Sweeting, Bahamas
Gold medals -- Sheldon Tracey Sweeting, Bahamas; Eric "Bernie" Burrell III, USVI
Silver medals -- Lashaunda Davis, Anguilla; Julian Broome, Barbados; Pablo Colon, Puerto Rico and Cheryl-Ann Shortt Charles, Trinidad & Tobago.
Bronze medals -- Lincoln Peterkin, Jamaica; Giovanni Ismael Asmo, Suriname.
Honorary mention -- Junior Janga, Bonaire; Carlos Anthonij, Curacao

Junior chef of the year
Winner -- Naomi Lovell, Trinidad & Tobago
Gold medals -- Dwayne Sinclair, Bahamas; Javon Cummins, Barbados, Naomi Lovell, Trinidad & Tobago
Silver medals -- Mtima Daniels, Anguilla, Ashohary Juliana, Curacoa; Jay Samuda-Thomas, Jamaica; Julio Lamberty, Puerto Rico; Vanina Candes Tjon a Tjoen, Suriname
Bronze medals -- Giovannie Veld, Bonaire; Ilejah Crabbe, USVI

Ice carving competition
Silver medal and ice carver of the year -- Hamac Palms, Jamaica
Bronze medals -- Ancilleno Solomon, Bahamas; Dwight Cross, Jamaica

Seafood competition
Winner -- Nathan Crichlow, Barbados; Sherwin Alexander, Suriname
Silver medals -- Laureen Anique Perkins, Anguilla; Gian Stewart, Jamaica; Rochelle Grindley, Jamaica; Jeremy Lovell, Trinidad & Tobago
Bronze medals -- Ron Johnson, Bahamas; Shanot Ocalia, Curacao; Joel Rodriguez, Puerto Rico; Gary Klinefelter,USVI

Beef competition
Gold medal and winner -- Jamal Small, Bahamas
Silver medals -- Kenneth Whittington, Barbados; Adriyel Lourens, Curacao; Randy O'Brien Smith, Suriname; Adrian Cumberbatch, Trinidad & Tobago; Dennis Vanterpool, USVI.
Bronze medals -- Claudio Gumbs, Anguilla; Dwight Cross, Jamaica; Angel Santiago, Puerto Rico

Rums of Puerto Rico Mystery Basket Competition
Gold medals -- Puerto Rico; USVI
Silver medals -- Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, USVI
Bronze medals -- Anguilla, Bahamas, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica, Suriname

Cheesecake competition
Winner -- Teresa Clarke, Jamaica
Gold medals -- Carlos Antonij, Curacao; Teresa Clarke, Jamaica; Pablo Colon, Puerto Rico; Janelle Olliviere, Trinidad & Tobago
Silver medals -- Ron Johnson, Bahamas; Julian Broome, Barbados; Michael Harrison, Barbados; Rochelle Grindley, Jamaica
Bronze medals -- Giovanni Asmo, Suriname; George Sittig,USVI
Honorary mention -- Norison Conquet, Bonaire

Taste of the islands -- Best team
Winner -- Trinidad & Tobago
Taste of the islands -- People's choice
Winner -- Puerto Rico
Best use of chocolate
Winner -- Bahamas (Chocolate with Caribbean flavors) -- white, dark chocolate, lime and passion fruit Bavarian, banana ice cream, caramel, white chocolate, cream cheese, ganache, chocolate cake, spiced mango sauce, ginger pudding, buttered chocolate rumble, cinnamon tuile)

Best use of Certified Angus Beef
Winner -- Nathan Chriclow

Hans Schenck Commemorative Award for Most Innovative Menu Utilizing Indigenous Ingredients
Winner -- Bonaire (Fresh mango mousse topped carrot cake served with candied red pepper and spicy smoked mango salad, red pepper paint and cocoa tulle sticks)

Most Impressive/Creative Menu for a Gastronomy Event
Winner -- Anguilla

Best vodka drink
Winner -- Trinidad & Tobago

Best non-alcoholic drink
Winner -- Puerto Rico

Most Creative Cocktail
Winner -- Chutney Bacchanal, Barbados

Tony Mack Spirit of the Competition
Winner -- Bahamas

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News Article
Starting off the year right

When God's people fast the belief is that the Holy Spirit can transform their lives as through fasting, a spiritual cleansing takes place. The fasting period provides a time of renewal during which Christians can meditate and get back in tune with God so that they can hear what he has to say to them.
After going through a grueling year, the membership at Calvary Deliverance Church began the year with a fast that lasted 26 days and which will conclude on Sunday, January 26 with the start of their three-day Breakthrough Healing and Deliverance Crusade, January 27-29 at the church located at East Street South and Malcolm Allotment. The crusade will be held under the theme "God Is Doing A New Thing".
"After going through a grueling year, you want to start the year off right, and the only way you can end right is if you start right, and so this is what we intended to do," said Pastor Mark Barrett one of the crusade's three speakers.
Calvary Deliverance Church's senior pastor James Newry and Elder Jason McPhee are also scheduled to speak during the crusade.
Barrett who will speak on the topic "God is doing a new thing, don't worry about your past," said the partial fasting he engaged in has done a lot of good things for him.
Besides his obvious weight loss, Barrett said fasting gave him a spiritual renewal and has allowed him to feel more in-tune with God.
The church members engaged in a series of prayer meetings during the fasting period as well, at time they used to pray and read together.
"You're reading the Word, you're meditating upon the Word, you're fasting and you're getting rid of all the toxins from your body, so there are many benefits to fasting," said the pastor.
Barrett who engaged in a partial fast -- ate one meal a day after 6 p.m., but drank water the rest of the day -- said fasting was easy for him to do.
He's been fasting at least once a year for the better part of 20 years after he joined the church. He said fasting is something he would advise anyone to do so that they can commune with God.
For those people who have never fasted before, he advises that they ease into it gradually.
"At first it was kind of difficult, but you grow into it and you just do it," he said.
"You can start gradually, and take incremental steps, and go on a four-hour fast where you don't eat anything and just drink liquids, and then you can extend it to a six-hour fast. Before you know it, you will be doing a half day fast and before you know it, a full day fast. But don't just go and try do it right away because you're just going to hurt yourself," he said.
Calvary members who suffer with diseases like diabetes, or who are on medication weren't encouraged to give up food during their fast. Barrett said they were encouraged to eat, but to fast from something they liked.
"If they enjoy watching television we encouraged them to fast from watching television during the period and to just read and meditate on the word, with the purpose to hear from God and see God move in an awesome way," he said.
As a lot of people are going through things and hurting, Barrett said fasting is a good way for them to hear what God is saying to them.
"People need help, people need guidance and they need direction, and you have to be in tune in order to know what God is saying to you and through you, and hence that's one of the reasons to fast," he said.
According to the pastor they are expecting God to do new things in the lives of their members and The Bahamas.
"In Isaiah, God says he is getting ready to do a new thing and he has made a way for you and not to worry about the things of the past."
Barrett said people should look forward rather than reflecting on the past, because God has told them that he will provide for them.
"People can recall the blessing, but don't let that be their central focus. People should get ready for what God is about to do for them," he said.
The pastor said the crusade is expected to be an "awesome" experience.
"I think people should come expecting something new ... a miracle, a blessing, to hear from God and to receive what God has to say to them concerning this period within their lives. And I believe there will be a spiritual renewal," said Barrett.
Out of a fast and going directly into a crusade, Barrett said is a good way to start off the year spiritually. He believes if people start good, they would end on a good note.
Newry, the church's senior pastor expects people to be open and receptive when they attend the crusade.
"Don't dwell on the past, its trials and disappoints. Forget those things that are behind. Be open and receptive, in this new year to receive the new things God has in store for you. Trust him, like you've never done before to make a way in your wilderness and bring forth streams in your wasteland," he said.
The Calvary Deliverance Church Sanctuary and Women's Choirs, Praise Team and a Junkanoo combo are also expected to perform during the crusade. Services commence at 7 p.m. nightly during the crusade.

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Contractor lauds govt decision to push ahead on road work

Despite the uproar that occurred as a result of the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP), head contractor Mariano Aranibar revealed earlier this week that the Ingraham administration insisted the project move forward.
However, he stressed that the government took full responsibility for the public outrage which began in earnest a few years ago when a decision was made to make sections of Baillou Hill Road and Market Street one-way thoroughfares, which eventually led to several road closures.
"Some people asked why [we] didn't do it little by little instead of all together," Aranibar said during an interview with The Nassau Guardian on Tuesday. "The Ministry of Works had to reply. They wanted to do a large amount of work that they didn't do in the last 15 to 20 years. So if they did the work little by little, it would take another 15 to 20 years. And they said the roads were too messy, the roads needed an update, communities were developing, businesses were opening, and the [number] of people buying cars here was incredibly high.
"So they didn't want to wait. They wanted to do it altogether even assuming that there would have been some impacts. That understanding was clear at the beginning. So we all went on the same page and knowing that there would be a lot of public complaints."
As a result of that decision, Aranibar said the contracted company, Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles (JCCC), opened a traffic management operation to deal with the people who had concerns.
He said the Ministry of Works also established a public relations office to handle complaints related to the road works. He added that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which funded the bulk of the project, also requested that the contractor engage in a public relations effort.
"So at that point, the project was more about the public perception than the actual works because I understand it's public works with public money so all of that needs to be addressed with the public," Aranibar said.
Aranibar noted that the complaints began to roll in during January 2010 when work on Baillou Hill Road started.
He said he was forced to close the roads because of the heavy traffic on that street.
"The people started complaining and got concerns to Ministry of Works. The Ministry of Works is a public authority so they had a responsibility to the public, so they had to send the pressure to us at the same time," he said.
The Coconut Grove Business League, a group of around 50 businesses in the southern area of those streets, took the former administration to court in a bid to receive compensation from the government for hardship brought on by the NPRIP.
Aranibar said when he released the schedule of which roads would be closed and for what period of time, some workers predicted that it would pose a problem.
"We had several meetings. Even at one time the Cabinet called us in. That was the first time in my life I had to brief a Cabinet of a country because they were really concerned," Aranibar said.
And while he said he joked that he became public enemy number one as a result of the road works, Aranibar said the government's decision to forge ahead with the works was a good one.
"The most important decision the government made was not to stop the works to mitigate the public perception. They decided to carry on and take the responsibility. And that's the only reason why the project is finished because at the very first moment when the problem came up the government was determined to do the project as it was planned," he said.
He acknowledged the anguish that some residents and businesses went through as a result of the road closures.
"At one point there was a bad time where people couldn't actually drive anywhere," he said, adding that Bahamians can now move around freely.
"We are very proud of how the roads look. We can see the difference in every single area where the work was done. We saw it when we came and we see it now. We see order in traffic. There are people walking on the sidewalks... The main thing is people can walk on a dry path when walking to the bus stop or walking to school, without having to walk on the road which is unsafe. Now the roads are for cars and the sidewalks are for pedestrians."

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Pastor: You haven't seen anything yet

As they came out of the 26-day fast, the members at Calvary Deliverance Church were reminded to give God thanks for their lives and all that he delivered them from since the beginning of the new year.
One of three speakers during the church's recent three-day Breakthrough Healing and Deliverance Crusade, Pastor Mark Barrett, told the people that God is doing a new thing and that they hadn't seen anything yet.
"God always does things, good things for us, every day, and we don't see it. We don't realize it... in essence we don't notice it," said Barrett.
The crusade was held under the theme "God Is Doing A New Thing".
It was held at the church at East Street South and Malcolm Allotment. And Barrett gave the members something to think about when he asked them whether they realized that every morning they open their eyes it is a new beginning and a fresh start. He further asked them if they realized that there was the possibility of them not opening their eyes - something that happens to many people - and that it is only by the grace of God that they can have a new day.
"He is our oasis in the desert, our stream in the wasteland," said Barrett. "Jesus is the new thing that God did for us. He is our lily of the valley, our bright and morning star."
After going through the cleanse to start the year off right, Barrett told them that thanking God for the great things he has done could be easy, but thanking him when things do not seem to be going the way they want can be difficult. Being able to do so, he said, separates the grateful from the ungrateful.
Recounting a personal story, the pastor spoke about his family member who lost his job, his credit rating, went through a divorce, lost his home and to add insult to injury he lost six family members at once.
Despite of all that, he said that at the end of last year he began to praise God more than anyone else. And when he was questioned as to why he was so happy and what he was praising God for, considering all of his misfortunes, Barrett said he praised God in spite of everything his enemies tried because he was still alive and that God was about to do something new in his life.
He told the attendees at the convention that they are still alive and stronger, wiser and better and that they needed to give God praise and thanks for their lives and what he has delivered them from.
"The Lord has promised to do a new thing. The new thing God is about to do in your life shall not be delayed and not be denied. He will make rivers in your desert - new titles, office, privileges, blessings, language and joy," he said.
He also reminded them that a new thing can be positive or negative and of God parting the Red Sea and taking his people into the Promised Land.
"When God says to his children he will do a new thing, it means you will move to a level of freedom you have never known before. It also means that God is about to surprise your enemies beyond recovery," Barrett said.
The pastor told the members that they need to be prepared.
"I strongly believe that God is doing a new thing and that new thing is convicting the modern disciples of Jesus to connect with his people in more personal, relational and creative ways," said Barrett.
The pastor described God as the "lily of the valley", the bright and morning star, the alpha and omega and the beginning and the end. He said God looked into the darkness, saw nothing, thought to himself and the end result was the coming of the world.
For many people, Barrett added, it's often hard for them to accept and see the things that God is doing because they are not readily accepting of change.
"Sometimes when we hit rock bottom we don't see the good things that might be beginning, especially when it is a new thing which may not be seen as a good thing," said the pastor.
Barrett told the members that he knows change is scary. He said even when it does not look like people's lives could get worse, they often distrust and resist change that has the potential to be their salvation.
Through the cleanse that church members started off the year with, the Holy Spirit was able to transform their lives through fasting. The fasting period provided a time of renewal during which they could meditate and get back in tune with God in order to hear what he has to say to them.
The church members engaged in a series of prayer meetings during the fasting period as well, at times they used to pray and read together.
The fasting period was not only about food, as Calvary members who suffer with diseases like diabetes, or who are on medication, weren't encouraged to give up food. They were encouraged to eat, but to fast from something they enjoy like watching television. They were encouraged to read and meditate on the word with the purpose of hearing from God.
"After going through a grueling year, you want to start the year off right, and the only way you can end right is if you start right, and so this is what we intended to do," said Barrett.
Coming out of the fast and going directly into the crusade, according to the pastor, was a good way to start off the year spiritually, as he believes when people start out the year in a good way they end on a good note.
Also speaking during the crusade was Calvary Deliverance Church's Senior Pastor James Newry and Elder Jason McPhee.

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Ethel Sherman, 90

Funeral service for Ethel Sherman age 90 years a resident of Maxwell Lane and formerly of Lowe Sound Andros will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday, October 15th 2011  at Evangelic Assembly, Baillou Hill Road and Fleming Street. . Officiating will be Pastor Patrick V Smith assisted by other Ministers. Interment will be made in Lakeview Memorial Gardens, John F Kennedy Drive,

Mrs Sherman  was pre deceased by her son Udell Sherman.

Left to Cherish Her Memories are  I son Elkin Sherman Jr, 5 daughters Pearline Albury, Elaine Sherman, Gloria Barr, Vahazel Sherman and Christine Sherman, 2 sisters Laura Phillips and Pearlita McQueen, 1 son in law Sidney Albury Sr, 2 daughters in law  Stephanie Sherman and Theresa Sherman, 3 sisters in law Ethel Griffin, Renadell Barr and Vera Storr, 2 brothers in law Deacon George Griffin and Henry Storr, Grandchildren Frederica Strachan, Jerome Sherman, Lottie Palumbo, Sgt 2412 Alvin Albury of Royal Bahamas Police Force, Sidney Albury, Shantel Albury, Anthony Albury, Elritha Dean, Gerald Sherman, Prison Officer Shallman Lafleur, Samantha Sherman, Prison Corporal Jenesta Barr, Prison Officer Ezekiel Barr, Theophilus, James and Linzay Barr, Trevor Sherman, Constable Elkin Sherman Jr, Tristan Sherman, Nadia Sherman, Rochelle Armbrister, Latisha Cooper, Terez Miller, Crystal Sherman, Bernard Sherman, Ebenezer Sherman, Chrislyn and Paige Sherman, Charles Sherman, Gregory Roberts Jr of West Palm Beach, Alexander, Kenario, Sherell and Amos Sherman, 45 Great grand children including Nurse Michelle Strachan, 4 Grand daughters in law Barbara, Helen, Inderia and Geraldine, 1 Grand son in law Donato Palumbo, nieces; Rose Ellington, Ethelyn Eugenie, Dean Cabrera, Uwella Barr, Evelyn Barr Gould, Cleo Griffin, Emily Laverity, Carolyn Deveaux, Sherry Fowler, Shelan Barr, Vernamae  and Idalene Dean, Dorothy Sherman, Shirley Barr, Adline Sherman, Cleomie Strachan, Mernerva Phillips, Nephews Pastor Matthew Brown, David Sherman, Raymond Evans, Robert and Roy Barr, William and Ken Sherman, Wesley Sherman, James Sherman, Walter and Chris Bain, Elvis, James. Loney and Frederick Storr, numerous other relatives including Curl Lewis and family, Minister Betty Thompson, Dr George Sherman, Missouri Sherman Peters, The Evans family, Theresa Rolle, Albury family, Russell family, Dean family, Campbell family, the entire community of Lowe Sound Andros ,Friends.Department of Public Health, Ministry of Works, Department of Immigration Accounts Staff , Staff of Her Majesty Prison,

Special Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses of the Female Medical Ward of the Princess Margaret Hospital.

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LeRoy KemRick Brathwaite, 76

Funeral Service for  LeRoy KemRick Brathwaite age 76 years a resident of  #10 Gleniston Gardens, Nassau and formerly of  St. Michaels Barbados will be held on Saturday  27th, August,  2011 at 10:00 a.m. at  St. Margaret's Anglican Church, Kemp Road.  Officiating will be Fr. Oswald Pinder, Fr. Stephen Davies and Fr. Dr. Ronald Hamilton.
Interment will be made in Ebenezer Cemetery, East Shirley Street.

Left to cherish the memories of  LeRoy are his devoted wife  of 47 years Angela Brathwite four sons Kenrick Brathwaite, Police Inspector Michael Brathwaite, Neil and Sean Brathwaite four daughters Sandra Brathwaite-Nixon, Marsha Saunders, Lola Johnson and Patrice Brathwaite twostep-daughters Gina Dorsett and Inga Bostwick 22 grandchildren Lauriettte Brathwaite, Katrina and Craig Nixon Jr., Jonathan Whyms, Krystine Brathwaite-Kinsel, Kelli and Kenrick Brathwaite Jr., Larry Saunders II, De'schanelle Saunders-Miller, D'yanndria and Destinee Saunders, Michaela, Michael Jr., Andrew and Zoe Brathwaite, Xyne'a Johnson, Knisia Johnson-Thompson and Tone' Johnson,  Ari and Ashira Brathwaite, Shamere and Shimon Brathwaite six step-grandchildren Ya'Lann Coakley, Shelby and Malik Darsett, Petra and Peter Marshall and Ashaki Gibson four great grandchildren Kealo Brathwaite, Peyton Miller, Alaina Nixon and Maaliyah Thompson  nieces Renee Hanna, Patrice Bowe, Tina Lockhart, Tennessee Bowe and Tabitha Styles nephews Brian and Neil Wright, Dillon Burrows, Patrick Bowe Jr., Richard Fox and Paul Major Jr. daughters-in-law Christine, Shirlyn (Shorie), Dannielle and Gloriann Brathwaite sons-in-law Mr. Larry Saunders and Mr. Everette Johnson sisters-in-law Brenda Bowe and  Joanne Major brothers-in-law Paul Major Sr. numerous cousins including Gary Brathwaite and Family, Orville Durant and Family of Barbados,  Atlee Brathwaite and Family of  Barbados, Eggy Eastmound and Family of  Barbados and a host of other relatives and friends including Ruby Murdoch-Hill and Family, Mrs. Jacquline P. Pittman of Ocala Fla.Carol Kemp, Mrs. Judy Cash and Family, Mrs. Bertha Newbold, Mrs. Patsy Roberts, Eldeace Wright, marion Wright, Fr. De'Angelo Bowe, Arthur Lockhart, Mr. Justice Neville Smith and Families, Mr. Clyde Rashad, Mr, Llewelyn Armstrong, Mr. Colin Deane and Families, Mr. Irvin Armstrong, Mr. Teddy Gazette, Mr. Michael Thompson, Mr. Carlton Jones, Marvin Bain, Mr. Paul Thompson, Mr. Colin Puckerin and Families, Mr. Barry Reid, Mr. Euristus Nicholls, Mr. Bertel Holder, Mr. E. Barrow and Family of  Barbados, Mr. R. Blackman of  Barbados the Styles Archer and Hudson Families, Mr. Peter Marshall Sr., Mrs. Alvilda Nottage, Mrs. Brenda Bethell, Mr. Leroy Major and Families, Helena Pennerman, Mr. Kelly Burrows, Margo McIntosh, Ms. Brenda Duvalier, Dr. Duane Sands, Nurse Rolle and Nurse Bodie, Nurses of  Private Surgical Ward (PMH), The Gleniston Gardens Community including the Knowles, Murray, Bain, Moss, Davis, Rolle, Cox Families, the Barbadian, Bahamian Association, the Bahamas Cricket Association, the Cricket Club, Paradise Cricket Club, Friday Night Domino Gang, St. Margaret's Church Family, ACM of St. Margaret's Church, Retired Royal Bahamas Police Association, Prince Hall Masonic Family, Scotiabank Family, Commonwealth Bank Family, Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Attorney General's Office, Atlantis Hotel, Physiotherapy Dept, Rand Memorial Hospital, Ministry of Youth and Sports,Paul Thompson and Associates and others too numerous to mention.

Relatives and friends may pay their respects at Cedar Crest Funeral Home
Robinson Road and First Street  from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Friday and at the church on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until service time.


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What if Mitt Romney chooses Condoleezza Rice as his running mate

In November, the people of America will go to the polls to choose either a new president or continue with the same one, in the persona of Barack Obama. While Obama belongs to the Democratic Party, Mitt Romney, his challenger, belongs to the Republican Party.
A cursory review of the two-term presidents of the Democratic Party will indicate that the only Democratic president that has succeeded since Harry Truman (1953) to be re-elected to a second term, has been Bill Clinton, who is still the Cardinal Richelieu of the party.
It seems the American people have been more inclined to confer a second term to their Republican presidents (Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, albeit short-circuited by Watergate, and George W. Bush) than to their Democratic ones (Jimmy Carter).
In the spirit of full disclosure, if I was an American, I would be a Republican. This statement could cause ire amongst my brethren since I am black and an immigrant, the Democratic Party being the repository of a large segment of the black American and immigrant population.
This choice may not be visceral but it is cerebral. Mitt Romney told a polite crowd of the NAACP in Houston, Texas, give me your vote and you will see which one of us (Barack Obama or myself) will do more for the black population.
This question has been the story of the United States since the creation of the Grand Old Party; the party of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party that pushed forward the issue of black emancipation into the American consciousness.

Where the party came from
The Republican Party is an outshoot of the Democratic Party, from members who in 1854 were dissatisfied with the way the issue of slavery was being treated by the Democratic Party. These men and women from the Republican Party considered domestic slavery of black people in the Southern States "as a moral, social and political wrong that affects the existence of the whole nation".
The United States should be true to its credo enshrined by Thomas Jefferson in the motto "all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights". "The slave systems of the slave states have enslaved masters and slaves."
To put forward that philosophy and this new concept of thinking, the Republican Party had chosen a brash lawyer in the persona of Abraham Lincoln, who did receive some help from a self-taught black man, Frederick Douglass, to build the nation in the spirit that later (1888) the French philosopher Ernest Renan would call an entity with the shared vision of its glorious past and the common vision of building together the future.
In the opposite faction, the Democratic Party, the choice had fallen upon another Douglas under the name of Stephen Douglas to defend the old concept that states should decide on their own whether black people should remain in slavery in their territory.
In some memorable debates that are still the subject of several literary productions today, Abraham Lincoln demonstrated to the people of the United States that it was preferable to go to war amongst the states to unite the country than to let the southern states have their way in maintaining the system of slavery in whole or part of the country.
Abraham Lincoln won the debate and the election. The United States went to war against the rebelling southern states, and the black emancipation of 1864 as well as the reunification of the country was the result.
There is a debate today put in book and in theatrical production by Professor Stephen Carter of Harvard University: What if Abraham Lincoln had survived to his bullet wounds? Indeed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln some two years after the end of the Civil War had put a damper on the concept of nation building undertaken by the Republican Party.
For the next 100 years, the concept of pushing forward those who were left behind had not been a fully engaged governmental priority although it was still supported willy-nilly by the Republican Party.
The black population entered into a de facto divorce with the Republican Party around 1952 with the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who opposed the civil rights legislations proposed by the now more liberal Democrats, who later found their champion in the persona of John F. Kennedy.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy did not stop the movement that found a leader in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He had been able to convince Kennedy's successor, the southern Lyndon Johnson, that the cause of leaving no one behind was right, he should be also his fierce champion. Johnson did achieve and consolidate the dream of the emancipation laid down one century earlier.
Now the debate is whether the United States can achieve the giant leap forward demonstrated by the Chinese for their peasant population in bringing in one generation some one billion downtrodden into the middle class status.
The black and immigrant population is only 50 million out of a national population of 311 million people. Should not the United States with all its resources, its might and its knowledge, transform the lives of that segment of the population in two generations? The year 2014 will bring the civil rights movement to the mature age of 50 years old.
The black and immigrant population has been expecting much from both parties; which one has the guts to undertake major inroads that will transform with sustenance the lives of that segment of the population? It was under the Republican presidency of Ronald Reagan that a major amnesty law was adopted that brought into the magic mosaic, millions of new Americans into the taxpayers' roll and the making of an ever beautiful America.
It is a general consensus that the black population in the United States as well as the black population in Africa and in the Caribbean has found in the past four years a timid Barack Obama administration, interested in and acting upon the major constraints that could unleash the creativity of each black American as well as the million of blacks in Africa and in the Caribbean to make their country better and stronger.
Caring for the weakest link of the chain is the smart way to render the chain stronger.
The canvas of the United States has been changed by bold strokes more often by the Republican governments than by the Democratic ones: the black emancipation under Abraham Lincoln, the leap forward toward friendship with China under Richard Nixon, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the destabilization of the Soviet Empire as well as the amnesty for immigrants, have all been big picture strokes designed by Ronald Reagan, a Republican president.
The Democrats have also their bold leaders in the personas of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who remained president for three terms, and Lyndon Johnson, who was president for six years. Roosevelt did not hesitate to put the United States in the first line of defense against Nazi Germany, making "America the arsenal of democracy for the Allies". He did earlier engineer the New Deal, providing jobs for millions of Americans.
President Lyndon Johnson continued the legacy of John F. Kennedy, who left prematurely due to his assassination. His vision of the Great Society "that would match the marvels of man's labor with the meaning of man's life", was concretized through major programs in education, Medicare, urban renewal and the fight against poverty. The major civil rights initiatives undertaken under the Democratic presidency of Lyndon Johnson have not been a regular staple of the American life.
President Barack Obama did push forward a program of universal healthcare, but it is too early to put a verdict on that initiative.

Who to choose
The people of the United States will chose which one of the contenders, Barack or Mitt, to lead them into that bliss of a nation where inequality is not a major reality. The Republican concept rests on the creativity and the ingenuity of the individual to achieve that might, while the Democratic Party expects the state or the government to play a much more major role.
Which one is right, which one is wrong? I believe a combination of both is all right. President Barack Obama, in a recent soul searching television interview, said if he has regret in his past four years it was not to use his leadership pulpit to make the nation (and the world) whole.
Condoleezza Rice, at the end of the mandate of George W Bush, wrote a candid review in Foreign Magazine that if she had the chance to do it again in advising a government it would be to embark on a campaign of nation-building, joining what Barack Obama wishes, making the nation (and each nation) enjoy the glory of the past while contemplating and building together the future.
The United States is winding down one war (Iraq), while still conducting another one (Afghanistan). It is losing both because it did not apply the concept of nation building in either one. The solution to both is the solution of Abraham Lincoln, building a nation where all the composites of the country are gazing at their glorious past while pushing forward together. (The Dominican Republic slogan says it best: 'y palente que vamos juntos!')
Who will win the election of November 2012? Could Condoleezza Rice become at the same time the first female and first black vice president at the side of Mitt Romney as the new president? Or would the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama, offer a second term? It is up to the American people to decide.
I will be dreaming about an Abraham Lincoln lookalike, who is not afraid of going to war with his own (and the rest of the world) to impose the concept that we are in this nation (and in this world) together; we must work with ingenuity to bring about the bliss of the pursuit of happiness for all.

o Jean H. Charles MSW, JD is executive director of AINDOH Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at:

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GGYA youth take a hike for gold

No amount of training could have prepared Robert Kramer for the rude awakening he got during his trek through Barbados.
"Don't ever let a Barbadian tell you that the island is flat because going uphill for two days on the expedition says otherwise," said Kramer, who recently returned from the Governor General Youth Award's (GGYA) summer expedition in the southern Caribbean island.
He, and eight other Bahamian young people, braved scorching temperatures and miles of steep hills in the hope of bringing home a gold award from the internationally recognized program.
It was all a part of the GGYA's Caribbean Award Sub-regional Council (CASC) program, which was held in August.
This year's theme was, "Journey to a Greener Barbados." The aim of the camp was to show participants they could play a role in moving their countries to a greener state through recycling.
Leaders and staff members from throughout the region and as far away as the United Kingdom took part in the event.
The participants, eight from New Providence and one from Grand Bahama, spent several days in Barbados hiking, taking part in workshops and cleaning up the island's coastline.
Even though GGYA officials put the participants through mock expeditions and gave lessons on land navigation and compass work ahead of travelling to Barbados, most found out the hard way that things work a little differently on the island.
"During the planning of the expedition I helped plot the map. I quickly learned that the symbols on the Barbados map differ from those on the Bahamian map," said Nakita Higgins, another participant.
Higgins said she was also pleased to learn the different ways in which Barbados uses sugar cane.
"They use it to produce sugar, biodegradable plates and fuel for cars. Barbados [has proven itself] to be one of the best in the Caribbean when it comes to waste control. During the expedition we noticed many illegal dumping sites and gave a few ideas to the CASC panel to help correct the problem," she said.
Vydalia Roberts said CASC 2013 was an experience that she will never forget.
She recounted how she spent hours packing and later repacking to make her bags lighter for her trek.
"I awoke early that morning eagerly dreading the miles and miles of walking that must be completed by the end of each day. The hike proved to be one of the greater challenges, but determination outweighed them as a whole," she said.
Meantime, Delano Knowles said, "The expedition was very familiar to hiking in Nassau, but the biggest surprise was that the so-called flat island of Barbados had hills. Don't think about Baillou Hill. It looked and felt like Mount Everest. It was a great experience because I learned how to appreciate what I have home and got a new look at the geographical features."
Alexandrianna Swain, a trainee leader and college student, participated in the PAHO Mass Casualty training course for the second time.
"Being in possession of such vital information provided a feeling of importance as well as duty to perform in the case of any mass casualty event relative to my region," she said.
"I was more than encouraged to share this information with others unable to participate in the course and benefit, whether in a conversational or classroom context because education is key in handling our responsibilities."

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Foreign policy coordination in CARICOM states is another 'all fool's joke'

A few days before the CARICOM 33rd Assembly in St. Lucia, Grenada's Prime Minister Tillman Thomas startled Grenadians by announcing the future construction of a new hospital, which many dubbed "another fool's joke". As the assembly concluded in St. Lucia, there was Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of Barbados with another "all fool's joke" by announcing that CARICOM leaders are moving to better coordinate foreign policies, and his nation has already taken steps in such direction.
Without in any manner trying to diminish or dismiss Stuart's enthusiasm about foreign policy coordination, it was quite interesting to learn from his comments about the Barbados foreign ministry initiatives to re-examine Barbados foreign policy and more specifically to ascertain if "we are in the right places at this time and make sure that we make the appropriate adjustments".
It is commonly known that following any CARICOM pow-wow in the region, there are numerous post pow-wow media spins and in this particular case, Barbados was apparently accorded the responsibility to selectively tell the global community what went on. It was extremely encouraging to see Stuart's awakening since the untimely passing of former Prime Minister David Thompson. Having awakened and in his lackluster approach to give his nation special kudos about the Caribbean Court of Justice and Barbados's adherence to the one China policy, I was not impressed because Stuart fell extremely short on both issues and maybe they should not have been mentioned.
Why? Barbados' early acceptance of the CCJ as the final appellate jurisdiction is commendable and will always be recognized. Stuart, in expressing his appreciation about the many regional individuals who contributed to the creation of the institution, failed to give credit to former Chief Justice David Simmonds and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur.
What was even more striking and shameful is when he dealt with foreign policy issues and used Barbados' and mainland China relations. With fairness to Stuart, Barbados has made the correct decision and while the former BLP administration did not take the initiative to establish a resident ambassador in Beijing as the current DLP administration did, readers must be reminded that former Barbados Foreign Minister Billie Miller did quite a bit of work in strengthening effective bilateral cooperation between the two nations.
However, as the notion and useless terminology of "foreign policy coordination" is touted and bandied around to the region's population, Stuart sat amongst two regional leaders whose nations still maintain strong relations with the renegade province Taiwan. While Stuart was on the rostrum advancing his media spins, there might have been three other CARICOM leaders around whose nations maintain strong bilateral ties with Taiwan.
Therefore, in my view, if CARICOM is to demonstrate any credibility and seriousness in its approach to "foreign policy coordination", simple common sense demands that CARICOM is obligated in addressing and settling the One China policy. Passing a resolution or reaching consensus amongst leaders is fine but the implementation of the resolution must occur and be honored by some of our regional leaders.
Foreign policy coordination amongst CARICOM member states is not achievable and will never work.

The sooner that this myth is dropped and buried, those within the organization who continue to dream and harbor thoughts on this issue should call it a day. It cannot work and efforts should be made to focus on other pressing issues affecting the organization.
It is possible that limited functional cooperation between CARICOM states might be possible. For example, at a time when the region faces a depletion of local resources to implement and sustain national development initiatives, CARICOM should take the initiative of encouraging Barbados and the other states to have one chancery in Beijing, where their operational resources can be better maintained. A similar suggestion will work very well in Toronto, where many CARICOM states have opted to maintain their consulates.
These initiatives must not be seen as foreign policy coordination, but rather functional cooperation. There is no foreign policy coordination task and our leaders, secretariat staffers and ill-informed international agencies bureaucrats must understand that there is no foreign policy to coordinate.
Member states have achieved their independence in varying times; they have made their own independent decisions about who they would maintain diplomatic relations with. CARICOM cannot change it and should not attempt to. Given the secretariat's success in harnessing and befitting from various multilateral initiatives, it is advisable that the secretariat should continue in this direction, as it is likely to have more measureable outcomes.
Foreign policy coordination is a very complex issue and often misunderstood. It might be logical and reasonable to assume that the region and its leadership are showing signs of deficiency in this area.
Get to work, Dr. Anthony. As CARICOM chair, it might be helpful to re-examine your nation's diplomatic relation with Taiwan and understand that the recall of an ambassador from Castries to Taipei does not solve the One China policy.

o Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former assistant secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached at Printed with the permission of

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Wanted: A leader for the ACP

The 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries should use the strength of their combined number and access to their natural resources to demand a voice in global economic and financial arrangements that directly affect their economic well-being and the welfare of their people.
With resources ranging from oil through gold, diamonds, timber, bauxite and a range of natural resources to which the rich countries of the world want access, the ACP countries miscalculate the clout that they could exercise in unison to demand a better share of the world's wealth.
They also underestimate how powerful a force they could be in international organizations if they could agree to vote together. Effectively, they could be a blocking force or a strong bargaining entity with the rich and powerful countries that need wider support to achieve their own national ambitions.
They could also bargain more strongly and with more advantageous results if they could agree and adhere to standards that they would apply to foreign investors who now play them off against each other.
The problem is that, even though the agreement that established the ACP, allows the grouping to bargain collectively with any third party, the ACP has confined its activity to negotiations with the European Union (EU).
Further, the group lacks unity a fact well-known to the EU and to other rich nations. This lack of unity has been exploited by the EU, and others, to keep the ACP divided and weak.
Therefore, the group has failed to realize the enormous potential it has for bargaining more effectively for its member states.
Of course, there is an argument that the interests of ACP countries are so diverse, and even competitive, that it would be difficult (some would argue that it would be impossible) for them to agree on objectives and negotiating positions that would serve their collective interests.
That is the defeatist position one that has served the interests of those rich countries and investors that have benefitted from a weak ACP organization that does not bolster the bargaining strength of its individual members.
This was obvious in the negotiations between the EU and the ACP countries over Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) when the ACP allowed the solidarity it had shown in negotiating previous aid and trade agreements to dissolve by the creation of separate groups within the ACP to negotiate with a combined 27-nation EU.
The result was wholly unequal and unfair EPAs that will not stand the test of time, and will eventually end up in failure because many disadvantaged ACP countries will not be able to deliver on the pledges they were forced to make.
On the flip side of the coin, the 27 countries of the EU also have diverse interests and objectives, but they negotiate common positions amongst themselves and then argue them collectively in their bargaining with others such as the regions of the ACP.
The point is that "diverse interests" are no barrier to several like-minded countries reaching a common position if they have the will to do so in their collective interest. And, the evidence is that when, in 1972, the Europeans expanded membership of their Economic Community from six counties to nine, including Britain, forcing new trade arrangements between the EU and the then independent states in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, the ACP was created on the basis of the strength in their unity. It was that unity that allowed the ACP to bargain for the Lomé agreement under which poor countries enjoyed both development assistance and preferential access to the EU market for their products.
African, Caribbean and Pacific countries stood-up for each other refusing to accept better conditions for some countries if other members of the group were being short-changed.
It is equally significant that the rich member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), even though they too have diverse interests, manage to reach agreement on the standards they wish to impose on the rest of the world. It cannot be that the rich have a greater capacity than the poor to subjugate special interests for a wider good.
The history of the development of Caribbean society proves such a supposition to be wrong. For instance, it is the strength of collective bargaining by trade unions that unified workers and brought exploitative companies to the negotiating table for the delivery of better conditions in the late 1930s and early 1940s and laid the foundation for today's middle-income countries.
But, there will be no strong, vibrant ACP group that demands a voice in international economic arrangements or that sets common standards for foreign investors unless the leaders of the ACP countries themselves decide to imbue it with that authority and provide it with the resources that it needs to do the job.
Right now, the ACP is in no condition to do so. The governments of the ACP countries do not see it as a powerful instrument for their countries economic and social advancement.
The ACP Secretariat remains dependent on hand-outs from the EU to conduct critical aspects of its work, including work that affects its relationship with the EU itself. What possible independence and Vigor can it show in such circumstances?
Yet, ACP countries bear the brunt of the world's crises including climate change caused by rich countries, and the effects of the financial crisis in the US and Europe.
In any truly democratic system, the ACP group, which comprises almost half of the world's states, should have a say in the governance of global matters that materially affect their people.
But, they have no collective voice in the G20, no voice of their own in the IMF and World Bank, no strategic place in the World Trade Organization. And, no one is about to give it to them unless they fight for it.
With proper cultivation and development the ACP group could become a real force for advancing the neglected interests of the people of its 79 countries. Will the leaders of the ACP stand-up?
Sir Ronald Sanders is a former Caribbean diplomat.
Reprinted with the permission of

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Hazel Synthia munroe-Ramsey, 74

Funeral service for Hazel Synthia munroe-Ramsey, 74 yrs., a resident of Malcolm Road, who died on 31st December, 2011, will be held at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Boyd Road, on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Officiating will be Msgr. Alfred Culmer. Interment follows in Southern Cemetery, Cowpen & Spikenard Roads.
Left to cherish her memories are her 1 son: Salathiel Dean; grandchildren: Salathiel Dean Jr., Natavia, Antonio, Delano, Teko & Keno Dean, Lehona & Kevin; great grandchildren: Alvin, Jewel Dean & Christia Thompson; 2 brothers: Cedrick & Bernard Ramsey; adopted sister: Vernie Russell of Freeport, Grand Bahama; 1 daughter-in-law: Victoria Dean; granddaughter-in-law: Stacy Dean; 1 brother-in-law: Dereck Jackson Sr.; sister-in-law: Rosemary Adderley; numerous nieces & nephews: Barry and Sharon McPhee, Ricardo Newbold Sr., Barry and Shawnell Dorsette, Lavardo and Angel Jackson, Jennifer, Shakera, Jermaine and Tameko Jackson, Monique Barton, Rochelle Moss, Denise Pratt, Joycelyn, Joan, Samantha, Edwin Jr., Paul, Carlos, Gino, Ingrid Ramsey, Jacqueline Neely, Shanique and Shirley Adderley, Daniel Durrant, Albertha, Eugene Jr. & Sr., Julian and Javon Brice, Jimmy and Rosemond St. Suerin, Sean Kennedy Sr., Chadwick Kemp, Janet Taylor and Lavardo McQueen, Jamal and Tamara Gibson, Shanreese Gibson, Latoya McPhee, Rashanda and Hugh Johnson, Candice and Mandel Miller, Shantia and Kevin Cooper, Kandal Leadon and Kenneth Evans; grand nieces & nephews: Curtis Walkes, Sean Kennedy, Barrise, Barrinek and Barry McPhee Jr., Terranique Lightbourne, Ramona, Renicka and Ricardo Newbold Jr., Kendeece and Kenreese Leadon, Kevin, Kemron, Shantino and Keano Cooper, Princess and Jordan Gibson, Latwon Fernander Kenneth Evans Jr., Shanyiah Miller, Madison Johnson, Taneko Taylor, Barrise, Barranell, Barry Dorsette Jr., Justin Hanna, Kiara Ferguson, Kendal Munroe Jr., Aziah Jackson, Tess, Michael, Dante, Edwin, Shaquille, Rashad, Edricka, Orecia, Aalyiah, Sasha, Asharon, Shantera and Laterio; 1 aunt: Evelyn Wallace; numerous cousins: Fanny, Syl, Wendy, Sandra, Gloria Lundy, Carnet and Lloyd Rollens, Gloria Wallace, Dorothy Strachan, Patsy Newry, Ann, Reymond, Paul Armbrister, Charlotte Rolle & Troy Laverity; other relatives & friends: the Wallace family, the Munroe family, Malvies Rahming, Sandra Rahming, Gwendolyn Cartwright, Antonia, Maxene Ramsey, Petty Pratt, Theresa and Alphy Bethel, Ministry of Health Welding Department, the West Street, King Street and Wellington Street families & the entire Bain Town community, the Female Medical I of Princess Margaret Hospital, and others too numerous to mention.
Friends may pay their last respects at Demeritte's Funeral Home, Market Street, from 10-6:00 p.m. on Friday & on Saturday from 9-12:00 noon & at the church from 1:00 p.m. until service time.

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Creating a network of sacred space

How do our creative spaces inform our sense of self? How do they allow us as creative thinkers to help define and understand our identities and our relationships to the physical landscape?
These questions framed two important symposiums that intersected at Schooner Bay, Abaco, earlier this month: Eco-Cultural Awareness and Citizenship and the Schooner Bay Sculpture Symposium.
PhD student in Cultural Studies at the George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia, Marielle Barrow, led a team of professors at the institution and local artists to the development on Abaco for an organic discussion about the interrelation of landscape, art and identity.
They met with artist-in residence at Schooner Bay, Antonius Roberts, whose work revolves around creating sacred spaces to form communities.
"My role from where I sit is to always be mindful that this is about the community and creating opportunities," said Roberts.
"I understand the power of community and the significance of being inclusive and having other voices be a part of shaping not only a community but also a national dialogue."
His original Sacred Space piece - a public art installation with Tyrone Ferguson out at Clifton Pier that pays homage to the past and meditates on the future - originally inspired Trinidadian Barrow to rethink the idea of the sacred within landscapes and Caribbean identities when she visited The Bahamas seven years ago.
"The space really just stilled me at the core. He introduced me to another artist who was there, and I could not even remember my name," she said.
"I think a lot of what is happening now in The Bahamas in terms of artistry is related to Sacred Space," she continued. "It's about finding the sacred of ourselves essentially. This site evokes the sacred in Caribbean identity and our new way forward is about recognizing a visual iconography of The Bahamian."
Indeed, after delving into that particular space created by Roberts in her Master of Philosophy dissertation, Barrow now expands her scope in her PhD studies as well as in a forthcoming book of essays, "A Sense of Space: Public Art, Political Space and the Sacred," to examine how this space created other creative "sacred spaces" - galleries, public art installations, and the like - in The Bahamas since, and how this interconnectivity informs Bahamian identity.
Such practices, Barrow said, "perform" value through art, not in an economic sense, but in terms of social enterprise, helping the people who live in these spaces to affirm their individuality and respect the special offerings of their surroundings, creating a sense of the sacred that in turn builds a collective confidence and love for inherent creativity.
"I think we live in a space we don't understand and know fully," said Barrow. "Having these kinds of dedicated spaces making you aware of your own surroundings is critical because what happens is we become much more aware of things that are foreign to us through television and media and to forget our immediate environment, and that makes us foreigners to ourselves in the end."
"In the long run the very things that we depend on for subsistence in many Caribbean countries like tourism can't be sustained by people who are foreigners to ourselves - foreigners are coming here to find something that's different and new, and if we are just like them, then exactly what are they coming to find?"
Barrow's work is essential to examining the Bahamian cultural narrative not only to benefit The Bahamas socially, but her work which documents the strong interconnectivity of a now thriving visual art scene can inspire Bahamians to form their own cultural policy. Among the Caribbean nations, The Bahamas remains one of the few without a strong, well-formed cultural policy.
"There is room to accomplish a lot of things and to inform that cultural policy to make sure you have a cadre of trade individuals to fulfill all the dynamics of the art world that you need to have," she said.
"And then do exactly what I'm doing - map the art world and prove in writing why it works the way it does and what it adds, in a very practical way," she continued. "So what I'm trying to do for The Bahamas is to examine the art world and how it functions and to see how that links up with economic models and policy and framework."
To that end, Barrow gathered with Roberts as well as with George Mason University professors Tom Ashcroft (head of sculpture) and Peter Winant (head of school of art) in a space that is actively working to preserve the reality - rather than the fantasy - of tropical paradise, especially for locals.
For three years Schooner Bay has not only been building an eco-conscious community with authentic and time-proven Bahamian architecture that respects the natural landscape, but also has been forming relationships with artists like Roberts to add richness to their community through creative installations and energy.
"I think Schooner Bay model is so innovative and important to where we are right now. It's leading the Caribbean in a direction that we need to take notice of in terms of who we are as a people and what our future will be," said Barrow. "So I think Schooner Bay is a model that Caribbean society can follow, and various aspects of it can be pulled out and we can build communities around it. It gives us a design for where we want to go."
Under the theme "Eco-Cultural Awareness and Citizenship", it was the perfect place for the group to witness how residents interacted with the space and hold informal discussions about how the space is developing the physical as well as the mental landscape of its residents.
Yet paramount to the symposium which took place over three days at the beginning of July was the annual Sculpture Symposium at Schooner Bay, during which Junior Summer Resident prize winners from Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts visited and toured the space to collaborate on a public art installation.
Now in its third year, the Sculpture Symposium speaks to the deep commitment to community by artist-in-residence at Schooner Bay Antonius Roberts. In previous years, the symposium produced very tangible results of sculptures created from salvaged material on the beach. However, this year, says Popopstudios ICVA founder John Cox, the practice took a more existential turn being combined with the second symposium.
"Antonius and I discussed what would happen if we combined the symposiums because it could bring richness to what Marielle was doing and it could also be a broadening factor for the Popop artists, to see that their project was part of a bigger conversation happening," said Cox.
"I think that there was a message and that it was a bit organic. We never know exactly what we will do until we get there. We let it flow," he continued. "This year was a very profound experience. I think what came out of it is that the whole aspect of planning was turned on its head and the idea of product as an object, a manifestation of creative process, was investigated."
Feeding off Barrow's symposium, the final piece by the Popop junior residents, "Piano" was a sacred space in and of itself. Finding a beautiful view atop a ridge, the residents watched as a D8 tractor cleared a path through the dense brush to the view, and placed a sparse wall around it to create a temple of sorts. Informed by Barrow and the George Mason professors, Ashcroft and Winant, the young artists were able to fully explore the deeply meaningful value of their actions and final product, and to honor that aspect of art making.
"Tom and Peter brought a lot of philosophy and ideas and they just showed us how to dialogue - how collaborative projects work and how people feed off of each other," said Barrow. "I think if they were not acutely aware of that process through their own experience, what happened with the sculpture could not have happened."
"For me it was revolutionary," she added. "It was about community. From there, everything else emanated - collaboration, the collective good. It was about giving people space to experience something deeper than themselves. It's another sacred space."
Indeed the newest "sculpture" at Schooner Bay is about honoring that deep connectivity which runs through the cultural community in The Bahamas, says Roberts, helping to make us aware of how very important such spaces are to our self-worth.
"There is no separation - Schooner Bay, Popopstudios, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Hillside House, New Providence Community Church, Doongalik, the D'Aguilar Art Foundation - it all came out of the whole community of like-minded individuals who exist in The Bahamas," said Roberts.
"We probably don't see the power of that or the way we've developed yet because we're so close to it," he added. "But when we have Marielle come down and these professors from George Mason University and international artists as part of residency programs wanting to be a part of it, that's when you start to see the connectivity of it all."

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Double victory and triple triumph

Passion, persistence, perspiration and patience in pursuit of excellence propelled Bahamas Star Gymnastics' (BSG) competitive squad to the top of the medal podium in a recent competition.
In their second appearance at the Tim Rand American Twisters Gymnastics Invitational, hosted in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, these "starlets" nailed a first place in the team division for Level 2, a fourth place in the Level 3 team division, and churned out brilliant individual results including several first place finishes among 12-13 other age division competitors, and inked personal best and season best results in the scorebooks for their club and country. All of the gymnasts scored above a 36 (of 40) which is unprecedented in the country's history of the sport in a single meet.
The "crowning" moment came when BSG's Level 2 team was announced as Team Division winners in the All-Around category. The supporting cast of Bahamians had already peaked emotionally when Soraya Halkitis, Kym-Benay Greene and Lauryn Stubbs swept the top three positions in the Uneven Bars segment.
"Of all of the events, Uneven Bars challenged our team most throughout this season and we basked in the moment of the three straight victories as affirmation of the hard work hammered out in the gym," beamed coach and co-chaperone Tenille Thompson. At the Magical Classic, BSG's Uneven Bars scores were uncharacteristically lower than expected (low 8.0 out of 10) and the coaches headed back to the drawing board with the 'Code of Points', dissected the routines and made adjustments. It just so happened that the same Uneven Bars judge at the Magical Classic also judged the gymnasts at Tim Rand, and the results, all 9.0 or higher, brought relief and celebration to the coaches and gymnasts.
Lauryn Stubbs has been dubbed "the comeback kid" of the season. She had taken a four-year absence from the sport and returned last summer as a new enrollee of BSG. Her journey faced some setbacks when she did not win a medal at the Atlantis Crown Gymnastics Invitational in December, her first competitive meet of the season. At her second meet, Tim Rand, Stubbs dug deep and finished second in All-Around (36.875 of 40). She was also second on Vault and third on Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise.
Soraya Halkitis and Kym-Benay Greene, who had both earned second place All-Around titles at the Magical Classic in Orlando last month, rounded out the awards with a fourth and fifth place respectively. Stubbs' appearance at this meet allowed the gymnasts to qualify for the team division in which the top three scores counted. Together, their first place team award ignited the cheering squad with chants of "242" and "we are proud of you". Halkitis snagged a second place finish on Floor Exercise (9.3 of 10) and Balance Beam (9.375 of 10) to contribute an All-Around score of 36.675 to the winning team score. Greene dismounted the Uneven Bars to conclude a first place routine with a season and personal best of 9.40, and followed that with a third place finish on Floor Exercise (9.225 of 10). Graceful Greene's 36.40 (out of 40) All-Around score was the deal closer to claim the first place Team All-Around title. The Level 2 team also swept first place in the All-Around Team division on Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise.
The Level 3 teammates of Aniyah Pratt and Summer Sturrup captured first place in their respective age divisions. Pratt, who won first place in Level 2 last season, eked out a season's best of 37.250 (out of 40) to double her victory in claiming back-to-back first place titles at this meet, a first time feat for any Bahamian gymnast. Chalking up first place finishes on Vault (9.55 of 10) and Floor Exercise (9.425 of 10) and second place on Balance Beam (9.225 of 10), Pratt placed her Level 3 team in medal contention. Sturrup won second place last year in Level 2 and improved to first place in her Level 3 age division this time. Bespectacled Sturrup vaulted again to a 9.60 highest season and country score, as at Magical Classic last month to solidify her place in the sport. With an All-Around score of 36.875 (out of 40), Sturrup's first place contributed handsomely to the team division's qualification.
Candace Murphy, Madisson Deveaux and Sanaa Saunders boosted the team's winning chances in the team division with second place on Vault and third place on Floor Exercise to seal the fourth place title for Level 3 in the All-Around Team standings. Murphy charted an opportunity in the team standings for her club with a 37.075 All-Around score, the highest for Level 3 for the country. Mesmerizing Murphy raised her team's chances for medal contention with a second place on Floor Exercise (9.350) and third place on Uneven Bars (9.225). Deveaux and Saunders ranked ninth and 10th respectively in their age divisions with All-Around scores of 36.175 and 36.025, thereby smashing all doubt that this team is the country's strongest compulsory level team. Both Deveaux and Saunders recorded their season's best and personal best in the All-Around division.
"This team of gymnasts attracted attention at every meet we attended and for the key reason that they displayed a high level of sportsmanship and competed with a great sense of national pride. They exceeded expectations and for their third meet abroad this season, made all of the corrections and adjustments to produce personal best and season best scores which is a victory itself. All of the medals and trophies are just icing on the cake of hard work," said Co-Head Coach Kachara Marshall. Marshall, who is an english language teacher at D.W. Davis, and has built a solid reputation for some of the best results on the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exam with mixed ability students, applies the same concepts which have secured successes for her in academics to sports.
"I don't get to hand-pick the students I teach or screen them as in the private schools so I have determined to pull the best out of every young person who is entrusted to my supervision. I started training and coaching gymnastics in 2010 when Bahamas Star Gymnastics opened its doors and apply principles of discipline and hard work to draw the best results from our squad of athletes, talented or not. I would never have dreamed back in 2010 that today the results would be so amazing and that our track record is one of constant improvement. The results from this season and especially this meet have motivated us to take the squad of athletes under our direction to new levels. Same core values repeating themselves as time honored principles."
Marshall teams up with Coach Idania Garcia-Stroud whose primary focus is on the development of the dance and artistic aspect of the sport. Adding to the equation in delivery of instruction is Coach Tenille Thompson, a former gymnast, whose contribution includes strengthening fundamentals and intensifying the conditioning levels in preparation for higher level skills. When asked whether the BSG gymnasts will likely qualify for the Olympics in future years, the coaching staff all respond, "God's will and time will tell."
Bahamas Star Gymnastics opened its doors on Bacardi Road in 2010 with its Starmania Summer Camp and has contributed to the hosting of the Atlantis Crown Gymnastics Invitational and other events such as coaches clinics which continue to improve the sports of gymnastics in the country. BSG will host its own meet, BGPBC-Bahamas Star Gymnastics Invitational, for the third consecutive year in late April.

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Saving CARICOM, pt. 2

o This commentary is taken from a lecture given by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell on February 6 at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago. Mitchell's address was on "Saving CARICOM".
Stay with me for a minute here.
We in the Progressive Liberal Party returned to power in The Bahamas in 2002. We had lost to the Free National Movement 10 years earlier in 1992 which ushered in a more conservative and laissez faire attitude toward governance.
The leader of our party Lynden Pindling, who had founded the modern Bahamian state, was thrown out of office unceremoniously in 1992 after 25 years, and within eight years was dead of prostate cancer. When we came back in 2002, the CARICOM leadership of Manley, Burnham, Williams, Barrow had all passed on and we met a new order.
The new order was Kenny Anthony, P.J. Patterson, Jean Bertrand Aristide, Ralph Gonsalves, Patrick Manning, Owen Arthur, all a new generation of CARICOM leaders, all forged in the crucible of the region's premier institution, the University of the West Indies, with the exception of Mr. Aristide.
Jamaica's Prime Minister P.J. Patterson explained that Haiti had no other natural allies than we in CARICOM in the sub-region and he believed that it was necessary that they not stand alone and he persuaded them to join us.
Amongst these new leaders was a commitment to the CARICOM project. Even when there were strong disagreements around the table you got the feeling that no one would leave. There were some strong disagreements as in the meeting in St. Lucia in 2005 when P.J. Patterson sought to bring the leaders of the opposition together with the prime ministers in order to forge a consensus on the Caribbean Court of Justice. The meeting got off to a rocky start when one of the leaders of the opposition said he would not sit next to that prime minister because that prime minister was trying to put him in jail.
We stayed in office until 2007 when we lost to Hubert Ingraham, the leader of the opposition and once prime minister again. It surprised everyone in the region including us.
However, we might have seen it coming, for a trend against incumbents had started to develop: St. Lucia had elections in December 2006 and Kenny Anthony lost, then we lost in Nassau in May 2007. Then there was a loss by Portia Simpson Miller in Jamaica in September 2007, and then by Owen Arthur in Barbados in January 2008. Said Musa lost on February 7, 2008 in Belize and then a loss by Keith Mitchell in Grenada on July 8, 2008.
Patrick Manning, the then prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking at a political rally in Port of Spain reminded his party how up to that time he had bucked the trend. Here is how the press reported the statement by the then prime minister on Sunday, July 13, 2008: "Prime Minister Patrick Manning said yesterday that his controversial actions in the selection of candidates in the last general election were vindicated by the results of the elections across the Caribbean.
"Addressing the PNM's 42nd Annual Convention, Manning noted that many people questioned the strategy he employed in the selection of candidates, which saw many senior MPs and Cabinet members rejected.
"Let me ask you this question, where is the last government of Belize?" Manning enquired. 'Gone!' the crowd replied. 'The last government of The Bahamas?' he asked. 'Gone!' was the refrain. 'The last government of Jamaica?' he enquired. 'Gone!' shouted the crowd. 'The last government of Barbados?' he asked. The response was the same. 'The last government of St. Lucia?' 'Gone!' they shouted. 'Where is the last government of Grenada, my dear friends?' 'Gone!' the crowd chorused. 'Where is the last government of Trinidad and Tobago?' Thunderous applause drowned out the words, 'Here, here.'"
Of course, history now shows that in 2010, a trend had indeed developed and that trend continued in Trinidad and Tobago. My larger point here is that we can detect the shifts in our societies by looking at one another.
Another example is how Jamaica started to develop a crime problem in the 1970s; and many of them as they fled Jamaica and came to Nassau would warn us that we too would face the problem of bars on our windows and crime out of control. We are seeing these same pathologies today in The Bahamas.
My point is that on this anecdotal level, trends seem to develop in our region and it tends to start south and move north.
The trend reversed itself somewhat within five years when beginning with Kenny Anthony some of the men who had lost power five years before were back in power again. Kenny Anthony described it on July 4, 2012 in St. Lucia as returning to power following a period of political metanoia. This inspired us in The Bahamas. In addition to Perry Christie, Portia Simpson Miller has returned and so has Keith Mitchell of Grenada. Of the original group that were Perry Christie's peers in 2002, only Ralph Gonsalves and Denzil Douglas are still there uninterrupted by the vagaries of democracy. Everyone else had lost elections.
What we do then in The Bahamas is we look at the CARICOM region and what is happening here because it has been a fairly reliable predictor of what may transpire in our own society.
In fact, the talent to run our election campaigns has often come from Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados.
You may also know that the Progressive Liberal Party was founded following a visit in 1953 to Jamaica by the founders of the party and talks with the then leadership of the People's National Party.
My thesis then is that the development of the CARICOM project is a natural projection of what has been done on an informal basis by people over the years as they migrated from one territory to the next.
Who can forget how the lives of the region and of Trinidad and Tobago were influenced and transformed by the man now known as the Mighty Sparrow who hailed from Grenada.
I have styled this lecture rather grandly " Saving CARICOM". That has elicited many responses from many people but most people have said "how are you going to do that?" I argue that it does not need a savior, contrary to the harsh judgment issued by the Trinidadian writer V.S. Naipaul in his essay "The Killings In Trinidad". CARICOM is a project that grows itself. The project is organic and when one looks at the history of the events, it shows that the Caribbean ethos causes it to survive, compels it to survive.
In this effort I adopt the history as outlined by the distinguished Secretary General of CARICOM Irwin La Rocque.
In an address delivered right here in Trinidad on October 3, 2013, the secretary general gave the summary narrative of the founding of the modern CARICOM project. I think that one decision that should be made is to adopt a common narrative about the founding of the organization and spread the story. It is important for the history to be reduced to a bite size. It makes for part of the wider understanding amongst the younger people of how we came to be where we are. The secretary general wrote: "Ladies and gentlemen, in real terms our integration process can be regarded as beginning 81 years ago, given that it was in 1932 that the first concrete proposals for Caribbean unity were put forward at a meeting of Caribbean labor issues leaders in Roseau, Dominica.
"It was the labor movement which championed and pioneered integration as a means of self-governance for the West Indian territories. At congress in the late 1920s and 1930s, Caribbean labor leaders went from discussion of the idea to actually drafting a constitution for the unified terror territories, aided in large measure by a young economist from Saint Lucia, Arthur Lewis, who later distinguished himself and the region as our first Nobel laureate.
"Progress stalled with the intervention of the Second World War but shortly after its end in 1945, momentum was regained towards independence as a unit. This was the main theme of a landmark meeting which took place in 1947 at Montego Bay, Jamaica. Out of that meeting, the process began towards the West Indies Federation. This federation would eventually involve the British colonies, with the exception of then British Guiana and British Honduras, and came into being in 1958. Its goal was independence and some services were established to support the West Indian nation, including a Supreme Court and a shipping line. In preparing for independence, a plan for a Customs Unit was drawn up but during the four years for the federations (sic) existence free trade was not introduced among the islands.
"The end of the federation in 1962 brought a close to this phase and to this approach to integration. In many ways, however, the end of the federation led to the beginning of another chapter in the integration process which would evolve into the Caribbean Community. The need to maintain and possibly expand the Common Services that existed during the federation was the catalyst for that (1963) Common Services Conference which I mentioned earlier. The UWI and the Regional Shipping Service along with the Caribbean Meteorological Service, which began one year later, kept the embers of integration glowing along with the so-called Little 8, comprising the Windward and Leeward Islands and Barbados which stayed together after the dissolution of the federation.
The Little 8 folded in 1965 and later that year, the premiers of Barbados and British Guiana and the chief minister of Antigua and Barbuda Messrs Barrow, Burnham and Bird respectively, agreed to establish the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA). It was the first attempt to integrate through trade. The other territories joined the initiative and CARIFTA was launched in 1968 along with the Commonwealth Caribbean Regional Secretariat, which became the CARICOM Secretariat.
"During that period, 'regional nationalism' was alive and well. It was a nationalism born out of a common desire and recognition of the imperative to forge our individual nationalism within a regional context. There was a political chemistry among our leaders.
"Eight years later, recognizing that CARIFTA could only carry us thus far, our leader felt confident enough to move on to a Common Market and Community and deepened integration arrangements on the basis of three pillars: economic integration; foreign policy co-ordination and functional co-operation. The Treaty of Chaguaramas formalizing this new agreement was signed in 1973. That treaty which reflected the aspirations of the time could only carry us so far. It included a Common External Tariff (CET) which incidentally requires member states to give up some sovereignty. However, decisions were largely unenforceable and dispute settlement arrangements were weak. Trade barriers among members were also rampant and many of the provisions of the treaty were best endeavor clauses.
"Sixteen years later, the watershed meeting of Heads of Government at Grand Anse, Grenada in 1989 set the region on course towards the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Grand Anse was a bold response to the circumstances of the day. The community was faced with a changing global economic environment while the performance of the regional economy was sluggish. The traditional market for our commodities was threatened with the advent of the European Single Market, and discussions continued on the global trading arrangements. Both of these developments would result in preference erosion for the commodities the region had come to rely on so heavily. Grant assistance was also declining. Our leaders recognized that we needed to become more self-reliant for our development. A deeper form of integration was the logical answer to those challenges.
"To accommodate this even deeper form of integration, the treaty was revised significantly and was signed in 2001. That revision of the treaty set out the objectives for the community, including the Single Market and Economy. These include improved standards of living and work; full employment of labor and other factors of production accelerated, coordinated and sustained economic development and convergence; enhanced co-ordination of member states' foreign policies; and enhanced functional co-operation. That last objective recognized the need for more efficient operation of common services and intensified activities in areas such as health, education, transportation and telecommunications.
"In 2006, five years after the signing of the revised treaty, the single market was ushered in. Twelve of our 15 member states form the single market, while Haiti and Montserrat are working towards putting it into place.
"In the midst of these various transitions in the wider region, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), whose members are either member states or associate members of CARICOM, have also been strengthening their integration arrangements which were first codified with the Treaty of Basseterre in 1981. In many ways the OECS has moved beyond CARICOM with the Revised Treaty of Basseterre Establishing the OECS Economic Union, signed in 2010, which among other things has granted free movement of persons within the member states. This is an integration group that has had its own single currency and institutions, such as its Central Bank, Supreme Court and Stock Exchange. There is much to be learnt from the progress being made at the level of the OECS which could assist the wider integration effort."
I would only argue also that along with the common narrative on the founding of the CARICOM project, there was the parallel story of the emergence of the Pan African Movement across the Caribbean and the struggle for national independence, the negritude movement, the civil rights movement in the United States and the common cause found in the struggle of the Indians who had come to this part of the world as indentured workers. All of those blended together to produce what we now call today CARICOM.

o Fred Mitchell is the member of Parliament for Fox Hill and minister of foreign affairs and immigration.

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News Article
The fiscal reform series: About that VAT

The views and commentaries on the proposed value-added tax (VAT) system have been as diverse as they have been inconsistent. What makes the discussion even more interesting is that the divergent opinions have come from economists, experts in this form of taxation and industry leaders.
There is often the tendency for facts to either be lost or manipulated in a prolonged debate, with the loudest or most frequent message being perceived as the ultimate truth. It is therefore important that we filter out the proverbial noise in the market and unravel the actual facts that will enable us to develop our own opinions on the proposed VAT framework. In this article we briefly consider the various utterances made by both local and foreign individuals as they chimed in on the ongoing debate on VAT in The Bahamas. We will subsequently embark on the tasking journey of understanding VAT and what it means for the average Bahamian.
The Barbados experience
It was reported a number of weeks ago that the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr. Delisle Worrell, had indicated that VAT is an anti-tourism tax and had hurt that country's local industry. Worrell was also reported as stating that the tax is very complicated and suggested his preference for a simple sales tax. We will examine sales tax as an alternative later.
A few days after the aforesaid report on the comments of Worrell, The Nassau Guardian quoted Lalu Vaswani, president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), as saying that VAT has been good for the economy of and businesses in Barbados. Vaswani noted the level of concern and anxiety within Barbados prior to the implementation of VAT; an experience that seems similar to the current pre-VAT environment in The Bahamas. Of particular note was his reference to an adage that a rope in a dark room feels like a snake. More recently, Mark Shorey - a VAT expert out of Barbados with about 20 years experience in VAT consultancy and a member of the VAT implementation unit - weighed in on the VAT debate in The Bahamas. Shorey remarked that anti-VAT hoteliers will not be satisfied and indicated that training closer to implementation may be more effective. In the end, Shorey suggested, the implementation of VAT in Barbados was successful and is a model that could help The Bahamas.
Chronicles of the local commentaries
Comments attributed to past and present government officials with responsibility within the Ministry of Finance have been consistent insofar as they relate to the urgent need to address our fiscal imbalance. These individuals have also been backed by some locally respected professionals who have cautioned that we are between a rock and a hard place with the window for remediation closing with each passing day. A common concern has been the rate at which VAT is introduced, with recommendations for a rate lower than the proposed 15 percent.
The main opponents of VAT from the business community have been fervent in their campaign against this form of taxation, arguing that it is not appropriate for The Bahamas and would increase the cost of living while further shrinking the middle class. A study of jurisdictions that have implemented VAT will show that the fear and anxiety being expressed is not unique to The Bahamas, nor is it unusual for various interest groups to voice their concerns. The emergence of groups that purportedly represent the populace and average citizens has also inserted a unique dimension to the ongoing debate on VAT.
WTO accession and a replacement tax
We know that the government requires among other measures on the expenditure side, additional revenue to correct our structural recurrent deficit. However, the recent revelation by the co-chair of the Coalition for Responsible Taxation that the group was not aware that the reduction in tariff rates has to be immediate and cannot be phased in as The Bahamas seeks to join the WTO is indeed food for thought. This raises the question of how effective the government has been in explaining the link between our efforts to join the WTO and the introduction of VAT.
It appears that the case for our urgent accession to the WTO has not been adequately presented to the average Bahamian. It can also be argued that not enough has been said to sensitize the public to the fact that VAT is intended to replace the significant amount of revenue the government will be forfeiting as tariff rates are reduced to facilitate our accession to the WTO. Perhaps this is an indication of the oft manifested culture of addressing matters in vacuums or isolation without due attention to the bigger picture. It follows therefore that if VAT on goods is expected to replace existing tariffs on goods, the introduction of VAT should be neutral in relation to government revenue. This will not however be the case as the government expects to raise some $200 million in additional revenue from VAT on services which have been untaxed for quite some time even though our economy is for the most part service based.
The progressive aspect of a regressive tax
There is no doubt that VAT cannot be classified as a progressive form of taxation and is generally regarded as a regressive tax. In this regard, there have been numerous criticisms of this proposed tax system and suggestions for alternatives which are deemed to be more progressive in nature, including income tax.
Warren Buffett - the man often referred to as the Oracle of Omaha and regarded as one of the greatest investors of all time - has been a proponent of the rich paying more taxes in support of the philosophy of U.S. President Barack Obama. Locally, businessman Tennyson Wells has been quoted as stating a similar view, albeit from the perspective of a different school of thought on welfare, allocation of the tax burden and the trickle down paradigm. Nevertheless, as research has shown that individuals who are more well off spend a higher percentage of their income on services than goods when compared to the less well off, one can conclude that the introduction of VAT will increase the amount of taxes paid by the upper class in our country over that paid by the lower class. It should be noted that this does not eliminate the expected increase in the cost of doing business for companies, though this will ultimately be borne by the consumer.
VAT versus sales tax
The complicated nature of a VAT system has been a major component of the concerns raised by the private sector with preference for a sales tax being expressed. The government had documented its rationale for proposing VAT as opposed to other forms of taxation in the white paper released in February 2013. While the paper did not provide ample details on the analysis conducted on each type of tax prior to the selection of VAT, the superiority of VAT over sales tax in terms of enforcement mechanisms is apparent.
It is therefore understandable why the government would prefer VAT over a simple sales tax. It is a known fact and Shorey confirmed that VAT has inbuilt self-policing and compliance features which reduce the level of resources that the government will have to allocate to its compliance efforts. In effect, VAT creates a level of accountability, responsibility and transparency that makes registrants and in some cases consumers, agents of the Central Revenue Agency with significant incentives and penalties ensuring that the government receives VAT payments. On the other side, it is expected that businesses will prefer a sales tax system which is easy to administer because it requires the collection of taxes at the point of sale instead of throughout the production/value chain as required in a VAT regime.
The German-born American artist Hans Hofmann famously stated that "the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak". It is time to rid ourselves of the unnecessary commentary in the VAT debate and focus on the facts necessary to move the discussion on fiscal and tax reform forward. Only then can a constructive discussion about the VAT that has become associated with fear and uncertainty, as well as proposals for viable alternatives, begin. Next week we will take a deeper dive into the features of VAT and the contents of the draft VAT Bill and regulations. In the interim, the various stakeholders need to disclose all the relevant details and simplify the information necessary for all to comprehend.

o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to

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