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News Article
Raising the ruins

Dear Editor,

It is now commonly accepted and clearly acknowledged, except by the most diehard supporters of the Free National Movement (FNM), that the country, especially here in New Providence and over in Grand Bahama, is being badly run.

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News Article
Building supplies firms suffer from 'flat' environment

By ALISON LOWE

Business Reporter

alowe@tribunemedia.net

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 ...

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News Article
Customs rate on security equipment among duties reduced

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.

Description

Old

New

Rate

Rate

Sugar free gum

45%

30%

Sea salt and seasoning

salt

45%

10%

Wild rice

40%

0%

Instant coffee

30%

0%

Sliced and unsliced

sandwich turkey meat

40%

0%

Sliced and unsliced

ham sandwich meat

40%

0%

Sliced and unsliced

beef sandwich meat

45%

0%

Fresh fruit

30%

0%

Dish washing

detergents

40%

0%

Other laundry

detergents

7%

0%

Peanut butter and

peanut butter jam mixed

40%

10%

Jams

25%

10%

Frozen vegetarian food

45%

30%

Yogurt

35%

10%

Spices and Seasoning

35%

10%

Active yeast

30%

10%

Ketchup

30%

10%

Salad Dressing

30%

10%

Brake fluids

45%

40%

Fans

45%

25%

Air conditions

45%

40%

Anti-freezing

preparations (radiator coolant)

45%

40%

Tubular needles and

needles for sutures

35%

0%

Human organ and glands

40%

0%

Kidney machines

10%

0%

Parts for kidney

machines

10%

0%

Printed documents

40%

0%

Electric cars

85%

25%

Underarm deodorant and

antiperspirant.

45%

10%

Removal of duty on

used personal clothing including footwear of returning residents

35%

0%

Ribbons for type

writers

45%

10%

Plastic toilet seat

45%

25%

PVC fittings

45%

35%

Insulated concrete

forms

45%

25%

Insulated steel wall

panels

45%

25%

Insulation spray foam.

45%

10%

Varicose stockings.

45%

0%

Parts and accessories

for typewriters, word processing machines, calculators and similar machines.

60%

10%

Parts for routers and

switches for telephony.

45%

10%

Baby bottle nipples

45%

0%

Baby wipes.

10%

0%

Solar air conditioners

45%

10%

Chicken

40%

30%

Security cameras

10%

0%

Security cameras

systems

45%

0%

Animal food

45%

0%

Electronic book

readers

45%

0%

Allow teachers duty

exemption on school supplies to be used in the classroom.

Various Rates

0%

Reduction of duty

biodegradable Styrofoam boxes, cups, plates and silverware

45%

10%

 
 
 
 

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News Article
Roofing supplies donated to NEMA

Bahamas Environmental Contractors Industries, a local environmental contracting company, made a donation yesterday to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to assist ongoing hurricane relief efforts throughout the Family Islands.
The company donated nearly 30 tarps and a number of poly sheets to be used as roof covering, and duct tape.
Dr. Barry Izzard, Bahamas Environmental Contractors Industries vice president, met with NEMA director Captain Stephen Russell near the Nassau Beach Hotel yesterday to announce the donation.  Dr. Izzard said the combined donations in supplies, which value $5,000, would help those who have been affected by Hurricane Irene, particularly in Cat Island and Acklins.
Dr. Izzard added that the heavy rainfall last weekend slowed building efforts on several islands.
"When that rain started on Thursday, we got cries from every sector of The Bahamas where they saw water coming into those areas that were exposed," he said.
Russell recently confirmed that his agency has so far received $528,000 in cash donations, not including grants.  Some of the money has already been distributed to several islands.
Russell said yesterday that 2,700 homes were impacted in some way by the storm.
"This storm has affected the entire archipelago of The Bahamas from Mayaguana in the south all the way up to Grand Cay in the north," he said.
Yesterday's donation by Bahamas Environmental Contractors Industries is expected to reach Cat Island by the end of this week and the donation of supplies made by the company earlier this week is already being transported to the island, according to Russell.

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News Article
New Providence Police arrest man in stolen vehicle - Confiscate stolen building supplies

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.

Officers
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
Robinson Road...

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News Article
PM: Just under 300k to repair hurricane-damaged MICAL homes

Just under $300,000 will be spent on repair-related expenses for homes in the MICAL constituency that were damaged during the passing of Hurricane Irene, which swept through the country nearly two months ago.
According to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, the repair and restoration effort of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) began on September 19.
Ingraham was speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday morning where he gave an update on assistance delivered to communities in Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and Mayaguana.
In Acklins alone, $152,578.40 was spent to purchase and ship building materials to be used on that island, Ingraham said.  An additional $62,000 was spent on the accommodation and transport expenses for the repair teams that were flown in from New Providence.  Ingraham said 24 builders from the defence force and the Ministry of Public Works, as well as a staff member in the Cabinet Office, were deployed to Acklins to assist with repairs.
So far, 15 of the 105 impacted homes in Acklins have been repaired.  Senior citizens' homes were repaired first.
The prime minister said another two teams comprised of Acklins residents will commence repairs on additional houses.  A second shipment of materials arrived on the island yesterday.  However, Ingraham said those efforts will be delayed as a result of complaints regarding the distribution of relief goods and the engagement of local residents.
As a result, a retired defence force officer was dispatched to the island to review the list of relief goods and the persons assigned for the repair projects, Ingraham said.  NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell is also expected to visit the island before the end of the week.
Once the teams are selected, it is anticipated that they will complete repairs on six homes per week. Labor costs are estimated at just over $17,000.
On Crooked Island, the Ministry of Public Works identified 44 homes that were damaged and in need of repairs.  Building materials have been purchased for NEMA's repair program in Crooked Island at a cost of some $16,000.
To date a team comprised of 18 defence force officers, Ministry of Public Works employees, skilled and unskilled laborers and Crooked Island residents, have completed repairs to 12 homes.  Ingraham said $10,672.00 has been spent on transportation, accommodation and per diem for the team of 18.
Another team is to complete repairs to 15 to 20 houses.  Labor costs for those repairs is $8,638, Ingraham added.
In Mayaguana, 79 homes were identified as damaged and qualified for assistance.  Ingraham said $6,496 has been spent to purchase building materials.  He said materials have been distributed to all 79 homes.  A repair team is expected to complete all repairs over the next three weeks at a cost of $8,638.05.
Ingraham said NEMA hurricane repair teams are also being engaged in San Salvador, Long Island, Central Eleuthera, North Abaco and on Cat Island.
"In this regard, Family Island administrators are coordinating the identification of suitably skilled individuals to conduct repairs on the affected islands," he said.
He added, "In virtually all cases, building supplies are being provided to those home owners able to organize the repair of their dwellings without further intervention by NEMA.  In the case of senior citizens or other disadvantaged residents who qualify for assistance, repairs are being undertaken by the NEMA teams."

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News Article
Shelters on New Providence are ready for Irene

While residents scramble to board up their houses and stock up during the last open hours at local groceries stores, hurricane shelters across New Providence are preparing for an influx for residents as Hurricane Irene approaches into the afternoon.
At New Providence Community Center, one of many hurricane shelters for the Western division of New Providence, a special team has been training with The bahamas Red Cross all year to provide assistance during a hurricane at their location.
"We have a dedicated team of 15 volunteers who have decided to give their time in the event of an emergency here in the shelter," says director of NPCC William Tucker.
Ready for 100 or more people with such a strong storm on the way, NPCC remains on guard and advises those who may need to seek shelter -- such as those in low-lying areas or areas by the sea -- to know their options.
"Don't wait too late.  Know your options early," he says.  "For those who are non-mobile, call social services ahead of time for arrangements because some shelters like ours are non-mobile."
At the Salvation Army locations on Mackey Street and Meadow street, which are one of several hurricane shelters for the Eastern and Central divisions of New Providence respectively, generators are full, food and water supplies are secured, and flashlights are stocked.
"We basically have everything intact -- we are prepared and ready and our command centers are open this afternoon," says Captain Vernitta Hepburn, speaking on behalf of her divisional commander at the Salvation Army.
With Irene's rapid development into a category three hurricane overnight and projections for it to strengthen, they even have emergency preparations underway for evacuations if necessary, providing trucks and even a bus if the building becomes damaged or flooding occurs.
"We looked at that in our emergency meeting and we are prepared to deal with that," says Captain Hepburn.  "We have persons available and manpower available. We have people on-call and stand-by radios to call each other and transformer radios to BTC."
With all the preparation, they are on guard to accept more than their maximum capacity of people and to provide assistance to those who may need refuge for three days to a week after the storm has passed.  With a major hurricane bearing down on the islands, they know anything is possible.
"Don't take it for granted that nothing will happen," she advises.  "If you need to come, then come."
Indeed, at Golden Gates Assembly World Outreach Ministries on Carmichael Road, which is a hurricane shelter for the Southern Division of New Providence, a staff of Defense force officers and Red Cross representatives are prepared to handle any number of people in the densely populated area.
"Because we're right in the heart of Fire Trail Road where a number of Haitians live, we could have any number of people here," says Bishop Ross Davis.  "I know one year we were really crowded; last year we were not crowded.  This year we might be because this is a big one and a goodly number of people have been calling."
Though they are technically a shelter for the duration of the storm, they too will be accommodating to those who may need extra assistance in Irene's aftermath.
"We'll be here until other arrangements are made," says Bishop Davis.  "We'll see what happens but I'm praying of course none of that will be necessary -- I'm praying that after the storm we'll just be saying 'Thank you Lord'."
NEMA advises even residents who have made adequate hurricane preparations on their houses to have an emergency evacuation plan and emergency pack in case they need to leave their house.
Emergency packs for shelters should include any prescription or special medications, a first aid kit, flashlights and batteries, a portable radio player, drinking water and non-perishable food with a can opener, toilet paper, paper towels and pre-moistened towelettes, personal hygiene items, pillows, blankets and/or sleeping mattress, garbage bags, a camera, important papers such as passports and other identifications, extra clothing and items to keep children occupied.
They advise to shut off electricity and water before leaving and to close all windows and lock all doors. It is also advised to let friends or relatives know where you are going so someone knows your whereabouts when the storm clears.
They will be broadcasting information on local radio stations about where and when shelters will be open.
The National Emergencement Agency (NEMA) advises that based on the latest timelines for Hurricane Irene's path through the various islands in The Bahamas, all shelters in The Bahamas should be activated at 6 p.m. today.
All shelter managers must report in to their assigned shelters by 4 p.m. Persons responsible for opening shelters should be in place.

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News Article
The Young Bahamian Music Society's Annual Report on Fairness to Youth Entertainers - 2012

Nassau, Bahamas - The following has been presented by Dwight Jones of The Young Bahamian Music Society:

For the sake of clarity this initial
report will be presented in basic terms of public money invested by successive
governments, no matter the party in power, in well-thought out and designed
programs supported by the professional staffing of buildings, necessary equipment
and supplies, all dedicated to various fields of endeavor to assist youths
starting out.

If you wish to pursue traditionally
admirable careers in life, youth are encouraged and supported by going to
these locations...

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News Article
Former Freeport Concrete CEO is back in business

* 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 ...

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News Article
'The great land giveaway'

The problems that plagued the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) during its last five-year term in office are well known. The infamous Anna Nicole Smith saga, the notorious Cabinet "fight", the Korean boat debacle and the general view that former Prime Minister Perry Christie had little control over his own ministers.
But perhaps what is perceived as one of the biggest - but lesser known - perceived blunders is what some have termed the "greatest land giveaway" of our time.
It was the PLP's 2006 joint venture deal with Boston-based developers the I-Group to sell off nearly 10,000 acres - 9,999 to be exact - including prime beachfront and waterfront Crown land in Mayaguana for the fire sale price of about $650 an acre.
The deal in its original form would have boxed in the 350 natives of Mayaguana to the interior of the island, much like Native Americans relegated to a reservation, Hotel Corporation Chairman Michael Scott told The Guardian.
The investors also received a multitude of concessions, over and beyond those normally granted to these types of development projects, and the clause that allowed it to exit the agreement (force majeure clause) was excessive in its options, according to Scott.
It was heralded by those in the Christie administration as the new model for the Family Islands. The PLP argued that the agreement that handed over 9,999 acres of Crown land was a joint venture, and in no way represented a land "giveaway".
The development was supposed to create 1,700 jobs during the first five years and contribute $116 million to the country's GDP.
But by 2008, the I-Group, which had already received a portion of land under the original agreement (2,000-plus acres), had invoked the force majeure clause included in the deal, citing the global economic slowdown for failing to meet a number of milestones that would allow it to secure the remainder of the property.
Those milestones included the completion of the Mayaguana airport and associated facilities, the development of a subdivision and estate lots and utility projects, among others.
It also did not help that the relationship between the government - now the Free National Movement - and the I-Group had started to deteriorate. It is claimed that the I-Group openly supported the PLP in its failed re-election bid, and was less than welcoming to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham when he paid a visit to the island to take a look at the project.

A new agreement
While Ingraham was prepared to honor the deal in its original form, Scott said, some in the administration - including Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace - insisted that too much was at stake to simply let the development proceed under the original terms.
Last month, the government signed off on an amended Heads of Agreement with the I-Group, which was willing to rework the original deal and has said it is happy with the new agreement. It returned nearly 6,000 acres, including significant wetlands, to the Bahamian people and severed the joint venture between the two parties.
The new agreement also brings concessions and exit options more in line with other Heads of Agreements for similar projects.
Scott was an instrumental part of the team that reworked the Heads of Agreement with the I-Group, over more than two years. It involved determining how much the investors had already "put into the ground", through a survey conducted by Baker Tilly Gomez. During a recent sit-down with The Guardian, he charted the genesis and later revamping of the controversial deal, a deal he described as an "insult" to the Bahamian people.
"First of all, $600 an acre is a disgrace. Secondly, you'd have essentially prevented the natural population expansion of Mayaguana because you would have had people herding together in the less desirable interiors of the island. Mayaguanans would have become the minority in their own island," he said.
Under a clause in the original Heads of Agreement, the developers were also going to get the exclusive right to grant licenses to any licensees brought into the development - a situation similar to the operating conditions of the now troubled Grand Bahama Port Authority.
"This is not hyperbole, but with the amount of land originally conceived to the project, with the concessions given, with the licensing authority afforded, you were essentially creating another Freeport. You've seen the enormous problems over the last couple of years with the (Grand Bahama) Port Authority. That's been a disaster. We were in the process of creating another one," Scott said.
Scott believes the former government also erred when it agreed to the multitude of concessions awarded to the I-Group.
"They were allowed to bring in, for 20 years from the date of the agreement, the importation free from all Customs duties of all materials, supplies and things of every kind of description and without limiting all equipment, building material supplies, replacement parts, spare parts, plant, vehicles, vessels, petroleum products. Then they would have had all the other exemptions from business license fees, stamp duty and real property tax for 20 years," he said.
Scott explained that the original deal was ostensibly a joint venture between the government and MID - the holding company.
"In that holding company, the Hotel Corporation provided a chairman and two directors, [I-Group] provided two directors, but the real decision making entity was the operations company called Mayaguana Management Company. So they called the shots. They were funding it and managing decisions relating to the time frame and milestones of the development were being made by them, not us," Scott said.
"This was a land giveaway dressed up as a joint venture. The ultimate power and control were given to the developers. The Bahamian people were passive investors through making available (nearly) 10,000 acres of land."

'Anchor projects'
Scott said that the revised Heads of Agreement reflects the FNM's model for Family Island development, a plan which focuses on small boutique hotels that are a stark contrast to the massive, sprawling 'anchor' projects that the last PLP administration pushed.
"It's a much smaller scaled development," Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said last month. "They are starting with 2,912 acres. The original proposal was a joint venture with the government for 9,999 acres. We are taking a lot of the land back and the land we are taking back is prime waterfront land, prime land in the interior and that allows some of the settlements to expand in the future and so it has become a great win-win for all."
"When they slowed the project down, we thought that was an opportunity to appeal to them to try and scale it back in terms of scope. They agreed and have signed a reinstated and amended Heads of Agreement which gets back 5,825 acres."
The first phase of the Mayaguana development will involve the construction of an airstrip, an airport terminal, a marina and construction of a 25-room boutique hotel for an investment of between $24-$32 million.
The second phase entails the construction of a $50-$75 million high end luxury resort in Mayaguana.
The original development was expected to be $1.8 billion. It is unclear what the exact value of the new agreement will be.

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