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Prime Minister Perry Christie is expected to table a resolution in the House of Assembly today to borrow $232 million from Deutsche Bank to order nine vessels and carry out ancillary civil work for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF).
The government signed a contract yesterday with Dutch shipbuilders Damen Shipyards at the Cabinet Office.
The contract is for the sale, building and delivery of four Damen Stan 4207 patrol vessels, four Damen Stan 3007 patrol vessels, nine rigid inflatable boats and one Damen roll-on, roll-off landing craft.
The landing craft will be outfitted with a 25-ton crane and demountable disaster relief equipment.
Special containers will also be acquired to provide medical facilities, desalinated water, sanitary equipment and other emergency relief supplies that will be deployed if there is a natural disaster.
Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said the government's contract with Damen also includes the upgrade of two Bahama class vessels: the HMBS Nassau and the HMBS Bahamas, which have been in use since 1999.
The contract also calls for the establishment of training areas and the acquisition of a bridge simulator, Nottage said.
He said the government will also execute a contract for port industrial works, both marine and shore side, at Coral Harbour in New Providence, Gun Point in Ragged Island and Matthew Town in Great Inagua.
Nottage said the cost for the ship building is approximately $149 million and the civil works are expected to cost $75 million.
"Given the fact that some substantial but hard to precisely quantify changes in scope may occur during the lift of the project, a provisional sum is being provided for in order to be able to accommodate all requirements," Nottage said.
Damen Shipyards has teamed with Van Oord, an international contractor specializing in dredging, marine engineering and offshore projects, to execute the civil works component, Nottage said.
"Much of the works to be undertaken by Van Oord will be subcontracted to local partners in order to stimulate employment in this area," he added.
Nottage said the acquisition of the vessels is proof of the government's commitment to the RBDF and the country's border protection.
Christie said the fleet will help the RBDF fight illegal migration, human trafficking, smuggling and poaching.
RBDF Commodore Roderick Bowe said a team of officers is in Holland undergoing training to man the new fleet and another group is scheduled to leave the country soon to train.
The government is expected to receive the first vessel on June 13. It will be named HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna, after the former governor general.
The other Stan 4207 vessels are expected to arrive in Nassau on August 15, October 17 and April 30, 2015.
The roll-on, roll-off vessel is expected on November 20, 2015. The four Damen 3007 vessels are expected to arrive in 2015 and 2016.
The government expects to have all of the vessels by August 2016.
Nottage said the project could lead to a doubling of the force's budget within five years. He added that the force is committed to increasing its manpower.
The RBDF currently has 1,218 officers and 85 recruits in training.
Nottage said the force expects to recruit 800 new officers in the next five years with an annual increase of 160 people.
The government has retained marine consultant Tio Devaney, a Bahamian who works for Global Marine Services, to provide technical advice for the project.
The Ministry of National Security will also engage a civil engineering consultant for the civil works component of the project.
The Ingraham administration was in talks with Damen for the acquisition of the vessels before it was voted out of office in 2012.
* Teams up with son to open building supplies business from firm's former Home Centre premises, which is owned by Freeport
Concrete chair Babak
* Set to employ 12-14
persons and sell from 25,00 square foot space alongside Butler's Food World
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Former Freeport Concrete chief executive Raymond Simpson and his son are going back into business in the Home Centre building that the former BISX-listed company vacated weeks ago, aiming to initially employ 12-14 persons at a firm that while supply similar products - building and home supplies - from 25,000 square feet of space.
Mr Simpson and his son, also called Raymond, said they were putt ...
Tiger Wu doesn't mince words. As the Vice President of China Construction America Inc- a subsidiary of the largest construction company in China- his focus can be easily summarized: Dec. 31, 2014.
That's the day Baha Mar, the$2.6 billion colossal project in Nassau, is slated to open its doors.
But there is far more at stake than the promise of thousands of luxury hotel rooms, the 1,000 square-foot casino or the sprawling list of features and attractions. For China, Baha Mar-financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and built by state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation-represents perhaps its most significant collaborative venture into the Western hemisphere.
If all goes well, the launch of Baha Mar could more accurately open the doors to the world.
"This project is essential to developing business in the Caribbean and into the U.S.,"Wu toldGuardian Business."It's only the beginning. This is part of our growth. We hope with successful completion, it will open up more opportunities in the area."
Indeed, as the face of the company in The Bahamas, a great political and economic responsibility rests with the Chinese executive's shoulders.
In a way, the revolution has already begun.
China Construction America has quietly won a series of major public works projects in the U.S., including the$91 million Metro-North Railroad station at Yankee Stadium, work on a ventilation system in Manhattan and, according to Wu, most recently a$10 million road works project in New York.
However, few projects, if any, rival the scale and glamor associated with Baha Mar.
The resort boasts world-class brands, including Rosewood, Mondrian and Grand Hyatt. It will also feature a John Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, a conventional hall, wildlife reserve, 3,000-square-feet of beachfront and a casino hotel.
Meanwhile, in the boardroom, The Bahamas and China have forged a strong and growing economic alliance. Last month, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, on his way to the Third China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, signed another technical assistance agreement with The Bahamas, bringing the total up to$30 million.
The Airport Gateway Project and the National Stadium are two other major projects in Nassau being spearheaded by the Chinese.
"There has been a quiet and long-standing relationship with China,"said Robert Sands, Senior Vice president of Administrative and External Affairs at Baha Mar."Do not underestimate it. They have been here a long time-silent but effective."
Working closely with their quiet Chinese counterparts, Bahamians expect to be the beneficiaries of the rising economic giant through the creation of jobs, a new market for tourism and other major investment opportunities down the road.
Baha Mar, and The Bahamas at large, is"East meets West"in the truest sense of the word, Sands said, and a testing ground which shows the world that great things can be accomplished between two very different places.
Wu, for his part, said he is very conscious of the need to change certain stigmas or perceptions of China as it seeks its place near the top of the global order.
He called the relationship between China and The Bahamas"fascinating". "Here we are, working together, and we have very different cultures,"he said."In the end, we find things in common."
In the future, Wu envisions a variety of new projects in The Bahamas, the Caribbean and in North America. He pointed out the expansion of the Baha Mar brand could be a distinct possibility.
But first things first-soon, more than 10,000 containers of building supplies will begin their two-month voyage from China. Other materials will be coming from the U.S.
And on the other end, more than 8,000 Chinese workers will be filing in and out during the project and housed in a man camp, with construction reaching a feverish pitch around nine months from now.
Many local business are involved and thousands of Bahamians are also finding employment through the construction.
Working hand in hand, this original odd couple might be building more than a resort. "Who knows what happens after this,"Sands said.
"The synergy here goes beyond construction and financing. It's the beginning of a continuum."
Freeport, Grand Bahama -
Seeking to give back to the community, local business Spectrum Colour
& Coatings donated 50 Gallons of paint, stain and other painting
supplies to the Grand Bahama Children's Home to be used in the painting
of their buildings, sidewalks and curbs.
"We felt it was our duty to
help and give back to the community in some way and the Children's Home
has always been an organization that I felt very passionate about" says
Operations Manager Thomas Bates. "Once Spectrum was in a position to
give something back, we were eager to help the children and the
fantastic team at the Children's Home and definitely hope to continue
giving to them in the future. The staff at the Children's Home does
such an important job for our community, that I feel it's necessary to
help them any way that we can...
With the implementation of value-added tax (VAT) just five months away, more businesses are joining the anti-VAT campaign and are petitioning their customers to do the same.
One business owner referred to VAT as "crazy", while another said the implementation of VAT could push poor people "over the edge".
Several business owners have erected posters throughout their stores, highlighting the impact that VAT would have on the price of food, entertainment, shopping, travel, electricity, phone, cable and water.
One such poster features the smiling faces of a family of four. The poster indicates that a family vacation before the implementation of VAT would cost $5,000. The cost after VAT is tagged at $5,750.
Another poster highlights the weekly cost of groceries going from $165 to $182.
The business owners are also asking their customers to sign petitions against VAT.
Many people have signed the petitions featured in JBR Building Supplies store on Wulff Road.
The company's CEO Charles Albury said he hopes the government will reconsider VAT.
Albury said the government has to look at a more comprehensive approach to taxation and should seek to collect the hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding taxes.
"They are just trying to add more taxes to already taxed out businesses," Albury said.
"And the problem that we have fundamentally is that it's going to hurt the poor people because that's who VAT is going to hit. The government has already admitted it."
With many Bahamians already struggling to make ends meet, Albury maintained that VAT is going to "push them over the edge".
"Everyone realizes that we have to do something, but this is not a fix-all," he said.
"There are a lot of other alternatives."
Faced with revenue challenges, the government intends to implement VAT at a rate of 15 percent on July 1.
VAT is expected to generate an additional $200 million in revenue, according to officials.
But Albury said a simple payroll tax would be a better alternative.
Dionisio D'Aguilar, president of Superwash, is also a part of the coalition against VAT.
"The reason I don't support VAT is simple," D'Aguilar said. "It will cause prices to go up 10 to 15 percent, salaries will remain the same, and most people will get poorer.
"You will be able to purchase less goods with your pay checks."
D'Aguilar said the government must find a more responsible way to raise revenue.
He said VAT will cause "too much of a shock to the economy".
The coalition, of which D'Aguilar and Albury are a part, is calling on Bahamians to "wake up", and demand the government delay VAT.
According to co-chair of the Coalition for Responsible Tax Robert Meyers, it represents about 700 businesses with about 65,000 to 70,000 employees.
The coalition has sent the government several alternative forms of tax.
Up to yesterday, more than 2,200 people had signed the coalition's petition on its website www.wakeupbahamas.com.
Meyers said he hopes for about 30,000 signatures.
Last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed a group of American economists will undertake a final study on VAT to address concerns related to the tax regime.
This is one of several studies the government has commissioned in the last few months.
"So as to clearly demonstrate to all those who are speaking strongly, stridently, emotionally and even sometimes hysterically -- and to address every concern, my government has commissioned a final study by a team of internationally renowned economists," said Christie at the Bahamas Business Outlook at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.
However, the coalition wants to conduct its own study on the impact VAT would have on the cost of living.
Meyers said previous studies had some "misgivings" in their projections. The coalition has therefore called on the government to provide it with the necessary data to carry out the study.
"The intent of the coalition and the intent of the petition is to demand a delay, to demand the facts, and to demand a look at the alternatives," Meyers said.
"Our primary concern is because of the level of consumer debt and because of the average wage, we are very concerned that it would have a damaging effect on the economy overall," he said.
"And if it slows the economy or puts us back into a recession, the inevitable is that there would be layoffs, cuts, and...if consumers fail then businesses will fail."
Meyers said the coalition will deliver the petition to the government at the end of February or March.
"This is a pivotal issue," he said. "If we don't get it right it could sink us."
Super Value owner Rupert Roberts also has several anti-VAT posters in his stores.
Roberts has been particularly vocal about the issue.
"VAT will kill the economy," he said.
Roberts said the government should consider income tax or some other alternative forms of taxation.
Asked how it will affect his business, he said, "It would hardly affect our business at all.
"We'll survive but we'll have to pass it on to the public. Our government is talking about introducing it in a recession...it's crazy."
The government has steadily spent more than it has collected.
Christie said previously the pace that the country is on is unsustainable.
Police arrest man in stolen vehicle - A 30 year old man of Eneas Lane, Bain Town is in police custody after he was found in possession of a stolen vehicle.
of the Southwestern Division arrested the man around 10:00 pm on
Thursday 02nd August, 2012 at Carmichael...
Police confiscate stolen building supplies
- Officers of the Northeastern Division uncovered a large amount of
building supplies from an abandoned building on Key West Street off
Preparations for Hurricane Irene had the command center of the Super Value grocery store chain buzzing yesterday, as managers radioed in updates on everything from supply levels to power outages.
"[Store] number eight is running on generator," sputtered a radio in the background, followed by notice of number three, number five, then number two going to generator. On it went as the chain's founder and president, Rupert Roberts, juggled a Guardian Business interview with the challenges the store faced in serving its customers.
No stranger to the pre-hurricane shopping surge, Roberts said customers seemed to be shopping earlier than usual - a situation that threatened the supply of some goods.
"We ran out of milk and are very low on produce and other perishables, like fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh meat," Ruperts said. The early rush on items meant that by "boat day" yesterday, supplies were already low. The supply freighter was docked in Nassau by 8:00 a.m., however, and supplies were en-route to stores by early afternoon.
"It worked out fine - everything in the stores this afternoon will be fresh," Roberts said.
Later this week, those perishable items may become scarce again, Roberts cautioned. Inventory levels typically would hold through the next "boat day" of Friday, but Irene has forced a cancellation of Friday's scheduled deliveries. Another vessel could bring them in on Saturday, but clearing them through Customs for delivery to stores then would require that department's "cooperation", he said.
Customs usually does in these circumstances, he explained, but if they don't it may mean customers must to wait until Monday for those perishable items.
"Precaution shopping" at the Super Value stores picked up since Sunday and has been "heavy" ever since, Roberts said, adding that Bahamians seemed to be taking advantage of the early notice of Irene's approach.
Since the weekend, Super Value has been busy with its disaster preparedness plans - shuttering all the windows they could and allowing staff to get their homes prepared.
The staff will be needed as the chain keeps its doors open to the public for as long as reasonable, with Roberts saying the store would be open until at least 10:00 p.m. yesterday, and likely all today into the evening, depending on how weather conditions deteriorate.
Local suppliers of essential items such as water and bread are playing into the retailer's inventory levels as well. Bread from Purity Bakery could become scarce, according to Roberts, who said the bakers would have to operate beyond its current levels to meet demand at the food store chain.
"Nine hundred loaves of bread go like water in the desert," Roberts said, noting that the bakery often supplied smaller retail operations first - leaving the chain at the end of the supply list in a time of increased demand.
"Unless they bake all day and until midnight they are not going to serve the public," Roberts said.
The chain had better success with one of its water suppliers -- Chelsea's Choice water company. Many water suppliers focus on retailing their products directly to meet the hurricane demand, but Chelsea's was honoring its delivery commitments to the food store chain, Roberts said.
Aquapure, another leading water company, saw lines at its Bernard Road depot an hour-and-a-half before the company opened for business at 8:30 a.m. yesterday. By late morning the queue was about 60 people long, according to Operations Manager Jeffrey Knowles, and its delivery operations were bustling.
"We have 23 delivery trucks going out and coming back in record time. The stores are stocking up, as well as customers and gas stations. They all need extra water, so it's madness," Knowles said.
The company had more than enough water, according to Knowles, but struggled to pump it fast enough to meet demand. It may seem like an accountant's dream, but Knowles said it does not all translate into profits. Historically the spike in demand ahead of a hurricane was followed by a sales slump after.
"The problem with it is whatever happens, people will probably have spare water next week. We pay overtime this week and next week every one still has water and everyone's sitting around," Knowles said.
He said Aquapure planned to remain open " until the last minute" today to meet demand.
Business was booming at JBR building supplies yesterday, too - Manager Charles Albury said, to his surprise, the uptick started as early as Monday. The added crush for nuts and bolts, screws and plywood, flashlights and lanterns, and other supplies brought with it heavy future refunds, a lot of frustration for staff and customers, and added security costs.
Customers have gotten into fights on the premises in the past, he explained.
"We don't like hurricane business," Albury said. "It's not worth it. The chaos turns people into beasts."
So far, business has been orderly, the manager said yesterday. Today, JBR will be letting customers in three at a time, and will probably have a police at the premises to help with crowd control too, according to Albury. He anticipates the business will close its doors sometime this afternoon, to give his staff time to finalize their home preparations and be with their families.
By ALISON LOWE
With the Central Bank of the Bahamas describing activity in the construction sector as "anemic" and "decelerating", Bahamian building supply stores yesterday reported flat or declining sales, with one supplier revealing he may temporarily close his doors next year until conditions improve.
The major supplier,who did not wish to be named, said he has had to let go dozens of employees, leaving only a "skeleton crew" of workers since last year. He has determined that within the next month he will have to decide whether closure next year will be necessary to keep the business alive in the long run.
Another major ...
Business owners are getting some relief in securing their businesses with the elimination of customs duty on surveillance equipment in the 2011/2012 budget.
It was one of a number of reductions in customs duty rates Ingraham listed during the budget debate Monday.
In addition to the security equipment exemption, rates were reduced on a number of food and other consumer items, medical equipment, building materials, classroom school supplies for teachers and electronic book readers.
My government is again introducing a number of measures to further rationalize tariff and excise rates, encourage energy efficiency and provide relief to consumers," Ingraham said during his budget communication in the House of Assembly.
Guardian Business has the list of changes to duty rates provided for in the amended Revenue Order Act.
Sugar free gum
Sea salt and seasoning
Sliced and unsliced
sandwich turkey meat
Sliced and unsliced
ham sandwich meat
Sliced and unsliced
beef sandwich meat
Peanut butter and
peanut butter jam mixed
Frozen vegetarian food
Spices and Seasoning
preparations (radiator coolant)
Tubular needles and
needles for sutures
Human organ and glands
Parts for kidney
Underarm deodorant and
Removal of duty on
used personal clothing including footwear of returning residents
Ribbons for type
Plastic toilet seat
Insulated steel wall
Insulation spray foam.
Parts and accessories
for typewriters, word processing machines, calculators and similar machines.
Parts for routers and
switches for telephony.
Baby bottle nipples
Solar air conditioners
Allow teachers duty
exemption on school supplies to be used in the classroom.
Reduction of duty
biodegradable Styrofoam boxes, cups, plates and silverware