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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
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.  The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), et al, are merely posturing and seeking political supremacy.
The environment is extremely dirty; garbage cannot be collected on a timely basis; major roads are dug up and in a shambles; electrical and water supplies are sporadic at best; traffic lights are constantly on the blink; government buildings are eyesores of the highest order; our schools are in a massive state of disrepair; our hospitals and clinics are potentially a clear and present danger to those who are obliged to utilize their facilities; and the majority of our politicians ain't checking.
These things have been festering for decades yet no administration, hitherto, has seemed to have the vision or fortitude to do anything about them. The band-aid approach is still the order of the day. When ordinary people seek to point out these gross deficiencies, they are labeled anti the party that is in power or worse.  There is one singular thing that I have observed over the years about our home grown politicians and it is that they are thin-skinned to the extreme.
Well, I don't really care about how they may or may not feel when I see my beloved nation falling into ruins right before my very eyes.  The time for clowning around is over.  Right-thinking Bahamians must step up to the plate and seek, collectively, to raise the ruins before the entire structure collapses.
I hold no brief for any of the major parties and the not so major ones.  They are all, I submit, cut from the same motley cloth.  Common Cause, an activist, non-partisan civic organization, will hold all politicians to a high standard.  They will either fish, cut bait or be forced to get the hell out of the boat.  No more free rides and bamboozling at the expense of the people of The Bahamas.
Immigration, crime and massive unemployment are plaguing us.  But, the political and sociological 'doctors', be they witch or bush, are forcing Bahamians to take a dose of medicine which is clearly aggravating the devastating illness as opposed to providing a cure.  I now call on my fellow Bahamians to let us seek to raise the ruins.
I call on fellow Bahamians to boldly state that enough is enough and that we are, collectively, 'mad as hell and we are not going to take this mediocre approach to governance any more'.  Register to vote, and actually vote.
To God then, the Great I am that I am, in all things, be the glory.
 
Yours, etc.,
Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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News Article
Irene duty exemptions hit 42,000

Since Hurricane Irene ravaged parts of The Bahamas, more than $170,000 worth of reconstruction supplies have entered the country with $42,705.87 in duty waivers. In excess of 65 applications made to NEMA so far.
The numbers were announced this week by Hubert Ingraham, the Prime Minister, during a speech to Parliament on the aftermath effort.
"These are still early days, and we fully expect that quantities of imported reconstruction supplies and replacement goods will continue to be approved in the months ahead," he said.
Of the 65 applications for exemptions, Ingraham said 50 were from residents and 15 from businesses located in Abaco, Acklins, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Exuma, Long Island and New Providence.

The Exigency Order, signed of Ingraham in late August, allows duty exemptions for goods necessary for the relief of residents, businesses and people engaged in agriculture and fisheries.
Cat Island and Acklins have been given the exemption for six months, while others on the official list, including Long Cay, Mayguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Inagua, Ragged Island, and Crooked Island, have three months to take advantage.
The Bahamas Hotel Association, which has assisted in the effort, praised the government for their "quick turnaround" in reviewing and approving applications.
"It was essential for our industry that repairs were done quickly to be able to bounce back into business as quickly as possible," said Stuart Bowe, the President of the BHA.
"The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Finance have been cognizant of this and did everything possible to assist. There are still a few properties working out settlements with their insurance companies and will be making application."
The BHA added that the most common materials for which businesses and those in the tourism sector sought duty exemptions were building supplies, roofing materials, equipment and furnishings.
It reported to Guardian Business that mor than 100 hundred hotels provided assesments within a week following the storm.
Most reported minor managed, Bowe said.
Thirty of those hotels, however, reported moderate to significant damage, some of which applied for the exemptions.
Bowe noted that islands not included on the official list have still been invited to apply. "While those islands may have escaped the full fury of irene, flooding or wind damage occurred with isolated properties," he explained. "We were pleased that government recognized this and allowed for applications from areas outside of the designated islands providing they could prove their level of damage was moderate to significant."
All applicants to the duty waiver are required to submit certifications from the local government administrator, and in the case of the agriculture or fisheries sector, further certification has been needed from the Director of Fisheries or the Director of Agriculture.
For materials purchased within  The Bahamas, the Exigency Order has also allowed businesses to apply for a Custom's Duty refund.

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News Article
Peet hits out at govt over conditions at Andros schools

North Andros Member of Parliament Vincent Peet criticized Minister of Education Desmond Bannister and the government yesterday for failing to ensure that the Lowe Sound Primary School was ready to properly accommodate students at the start of the new school year.
Peet said while most schools in his constituency are in good condition, the Lowe Sound Primary School is in an unacceptable state. He said two trailers used to accommodate some students are not ready.  As a result, students are crammed into classrooms Peet declared.He said in a statement yesterday the doors of the two trailers need to be retiled, and the retiling did not commence until Sunday.  One trailer is completely untouched and work on the other is incomplete, according to Peet.
He further noted that the main buildings of the school does not have enough space to accommodate all students, and the two trailers that were introduced on the school's compound a few years ago have acted as temporary classrooms for some students.
A new primary school was scheduled to be built in 2007, but these plans were put on hold when the government changed that year, Peet claimed.
Both trailers were to be tiled during the summer but tiling only began on Sunday evening, the night before school opened, according to the MP.
"I am calling upon the minister of education and government to ensure that [these repairs are completed], and I am condemning them for not having the repairs done in time to meet the opening of school."
In a statement yesterday, Bannister said he was "extremely disappointed" that repairs to the trailers "in which Mr. Peet had been responsible for putting the children of Lowe Sound in" were not completed before school opened.
"In these circumstances, I have asked for an explanation from the officers who are responsible," Bannister said.
Peet said there are also staff shortages at Lowe Sound Primary School and North Andros High School.
Bannister explained that the Ministry of Education sought to engage a number of teachers this summer.  He said several declined to take appointment in North Andros and the Ministry of Education declined to hire them.
The teachers who were hired in their place are on their way to North Andros.
Peet also claimed yesterday that Stanyard Creek Primary School was without basic teaching and cleaning supplies.
But Bannister said "this is a disappointing fabrication by one who knows better."
"In visiting classrooms at eight schools, I met students diligently at work on their first day at shool and teachers eagerly teaching," the minister said.
"It is therefore disappointing that Peet sought to focus on the negative rather than the hundreds of positive stories coming out of North Andros schools yesterday."

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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
Wu- Baha Mar 'part of our growth'

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."

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News Article
28th Annual Central Bank Art Competition announces winners

Artists and spectators alike crowded the Central Bank of The Bahamas Wednesday night to hear the announcement that Jackson Petit-Homme had been chosen by the judges as the winner of their 28th Annual Central Bank Art Competition in the Open Category.Petit-Homme is no stranger to the feeling -- he's walked away with recognition in both the high school and open categories before, winning the High School Category twice, coming second in the Open Category twice, and winning the 3D portion of the Open Category as well, among honorable mentions.

But this is the first time he's won since the High School and Open Categories were split three years ago when Heino Schmid came on as curator of the Central Bank art gallery space. The new prizes of$7,000 and an offer to hold a solo exhibition by the winner in the space are exciting prospects for the artist who we haven't seen a solo show from before.

"The advantage of having the prize money is to use it as funds for materials for this show," Petit-Homme points out. "Jumping off the piece I've done for this competition, it's going to be a continuation. I think I've found the direction I want to go in."

This year, the theme for the Open Category was "So So Beautiful", chosen by Ian Fernander, the Head of Administration for Central Bank. Petit-Homme's winning piece,"Beautiful Monsters"stood out from other competitors, the judges said, because of its flawless technique and approach to the theme which kept drawing their gazes back.

"As soon as the announcement for the theme was made, I thought about the piece for an entire year and only in the last month did I make it," he says." Lately I've been thinking about my Haitian connection, and also the mythologies within Haitian culture, and creating my own mythology out of these in a way. But I'm also thinking about challenging beauty in it."

Petit-Homme's piece depicts, in a flurry of subdued, dreamy colors, parents with human and animal features looking upon their newborn--indeed, the opposing forces of beauty and monstrosity provide tension that challenges its viewers but presents a resolution in the child's story beyond the frame. Though fantastical, the piece resists high fantasy, and instead draws upon folklore and magical realist roots to pierce the veil of reality and touch upon the inherent "what if" in the ideal of beauty.

Petit-Homme will be following in the footsteps of recent winners Lavar Munroe(2009 winner with the theme"Redefining the Portrait")and Omar Richardson (2010 winner with the theme "A Mighty Push Forward") -- Munroe's show at the gallery was hugely successful, and Richardson's upcoming show in December will also prove to be spectacular.

Curator of the space, Heino Schmid, looks forward to Petit-Homme's compelling solo show as the artist is known for both his painting and video installation work.

"I'm really happy mainly because I'm excited to see what he does with his solo show," says Schmid. "He's a prolific artist and works in a variety of mediums. I hope he's ambitious as he wants to be with both the content and medium of work."

Indeed, the offer of a solo show remains optional for the artist to take -- however, it is usually expected that the prize money can help winning artists purchase supplies for a dynamic solo show that can have great financial and professional outcomes.

To Schmid, the pieces submitted to the Open Category Competition act somewhat like proposals for a solo show and should reflect that ambition -- which both he and the judges did not see strong evidence of this year around.

"I think a lot of people who enter this competition enjoy the one-off quality of their work and it's difficult to access how they would develop an exhibition based on the pieces you see here," says Schmid.

"I really want people to think in terms of not just winning this--I want them to look past winning this and also see their solo show as the actual culmination of this competition--a stepping stone to this grander gesture."

With a theme of "So So Beautiful", artists produced pieces that attempted to literally illustrate the theme--but like all competitions, the pieces which stand out always provide fresh and unusual perspectives to the theme or challenge the theme, which only a handful of pieces took the chance on.

"I think the weight of the prize makes you want to be the good student, meet the criteria and check the boxes to make sure you win, which may need some rethinking," says Schmid."There are more than a few very literal pieces instead of using the theme as a jumping-off point."

The result is an overall exhibition that may not entirely lack technique but does lack ambition, and after three years of lackluster response to themed exhibitions, Schmid is ready to further change the way the competition functions in the changing Nassau art scene.

Indeed, for many years the Central Bank of The Bahamas was the closest thing to a gallery space Nassau had, holding shows that would launch or define artists'careers. Likewise, their Annual Art Competition acted as a salon-style space for both up-and-coming and established artists to present their work. No doubt, it will always be regarded as a major player in the history of art in The Bahamas.

Yet the past decade came with a surge of new gallery spaces and The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas with their biannual National Exhibition, provided more avenues for artists to not only hold shows--but to gain more control of how their pieces were presented and who they were presented with.

Though the Central Bank remains an active part of the art scene, Schmid points out that its role as a gallery space has shifted, and it's time to shift the Annual Art Competition as well.

He already started by separating the High School and Open Categories three years ago and providing themes, hoping that the they would provide more of a compelling and unified space for up-and-coming and established artists to play and hold meaningful conversations with one another.

"One of the things I want to do with the competition is to develop a group exhibition that provides a relevant context for work and provides an opportunity for artists not to win an amount of money but to be in communication with each other,"says Schmid.

As of yet, though, Schmid has not been impressed with the turn out, leading him to think about tweaking the Annual Art Competition further to bring out the strong work he knows exists in the art community.

"I just want the show to be stronger -- I want artists to pick up the challenge and baton from the last winner and build on it," he says. "The exhibitions are never as ambitious as I want them to be. I am more than anything an art lover, and I want to be blown away by an art exhibition."

"I like to think momentum is building a little bit and in the future when we set a precedent with an exceptionally strong exhibition that will force people to reevaluate their systems and their practices a little."

The pieces entered into the 28th Annual Central Bank Art Competition in the Open Category are on display in the Central Bank of The Bahamas until October 28th. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call 302 2600 for more information.

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News Article
Former Freeport Concrete head starts new business with son

By JAMMAL SMITH
Guardian Business Reporter
jammal@nasguard.com
The former chief executive officer of Freeport Concrete is exploring new business ventures. Raymond Simpson Sr. has partnered with his son to open a new building supplies business catering to the Grand Bahama market.
Freeport Building Supplies has opened its doors and is the newest retail outlet of its kind. The business will target local contractors.
""I've got more than eight years in the building supplies business in Grand Bahama,"Simpson Sr. said."So that has given me and[my son]great confidence that this can fill a need and be successful, even in today's market.
"Our merchandising and product ...

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News Article
400,000 in supplies shipped for Acklins rebuilding effort

One of the single largest shipments of supplies for Hurricane Irene relief will arrive in Acklins this evening for the construction of 12 homes, according to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Captain Stephen Russell.
The government approved plans last month to rebuild 19 homes destroyed by the storm on three Family Islands, according to Russell.
He said the 12 homes on Acklins will be built for just over $400,000 and two homes on Cat Island and two on Rum Cay will be built for roughly $200,000 in total.
Russell said all contracts for the construction of the homes in Acklins were awarded when he visited the island three weeks ago.
He expects the work on the one bedroom homes to take four weeks, and three bedroom homes 10 weeks.
"All of the material that is required to build those 12 homes are on this vessel, from footing, concrete, steel, all the way to roofing, shingles, roofing hurricane clips, bathroom and plumbing fixtures," said Russell during a press conference aboard the Lady Rosalind II at Potter's Cay Dock yesterday.
"Through Wednesday night and all day Thursday we are going to offload the supplies into Acklins and most of the items have already been marked for the appropriate contractors."
He continued, "The general public has been most generous to us in terms of the funds they have donated to the program."
According to Deborah Hanna, NEMA's accountant, the organization has received $3 million in funds for hurricane relief.
Members of the public donated just over $1.3 million and the remainder was donated by the government, private sector organizations locally and international organizations, according to Hanna.
She said NEMA has already spent around 95 percent of the funds.
"Those funds were provided for building material, various programs and initiatives to assist the Hurricane Irene victims and today we are well on target," Hanna said.
"The money has been used wisely and we can properly account for [it]."
Russell added that although some residents have been living with relatives since Hurricane Irene last August they are faring well.
"What really caught me is after the signing of those contracts in Acklins persons left that meeting, went to their property and started to clear the area with their machetes," he said.
"That is how excited they were to know this work was going to happen."

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News Article
All that glitters

If last weekend's Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) motorcade from Freeport to West End and the political rally that immediately followed are indicative of what lies ahead in the upcoming general election, an objective observer could reasonably conclude that Grand Bahama is no longer Free National Movement (FNM) country.  That claim could equally be supported because of the abject government neglect of that depressed island, which is presently experiencing a 21.2 percent rise in the unemployment figure.  The PLP's support last weekend was so overwhelmingly impressive that one can more easily understand why Zhivargo Laing abandoned Marco City in Freeport to political newcomer Norris Bain, preferring instead to take his chances once again in Fort Charlotte in Nassau, where he has no natural ties, except for his parliamentary outcome which is now tied -- with one victory and one defeat in the latter constituency.
It was during his rally speech in West End that Perry Christie urged the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) to defer the appointment of a new executive chairman until after the next general election.  At that same rally, Philip Davis, PLP deputy leader, noted that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham "all but admitted that... Freeport was neglected because of a personal feud he had with the GBPA...".  Davis explained that "the feud came as a result of his (Ingraham's) refusal... to renew the work permit of Hannes Babak, the then chairman of the GBPA."  And, at the opening of the headquarters of the PLP candidate for Garden Hills, Dr. Kendal Major, this past Friday, Christie once again referred to the matter, saying that Ingraham had let "a private feud with Hannes Babak get in his way of working with the GBPA" which Christie said "hurt Bahamians".
In light of these developments, we would like to Consider This.... based on Christie's and Davis' utterances, if the PLP wins, do they intend to renew Hannes Babak's work permit to become chairman of the GBPA?
 
The facts
Let's review the facts:
1. Hannes Babak became the chairman of the GBPA shortly after Julian Francis, a Bahamian, was fired from that position.  Following Francis' departure, other senior Bahamians were 'let go' or 'retired', including Barry Malcolm, Carey Leonard, Albert Gray and Willie Moss, all long-standing and outstanding Bahamians working at the GBPA.
2. In his capacity as chairman of the GBPA, Babak was buried under an avalanche of criticism by many notable Freeport businessmen and professionals because of his position, both as the head of the GBPA that licensed businesses in that city, as well as a licensee of the very body that granted and regulated such licences.  The GBPA also granted licences to Babak or to companies the he owned.
3. Babak had substantial business interests in Freeport, most notably the Home Centre, Freeport Concrete and H & F Babak Construction.
4. The Home Centre operated in the retail trade in building supplies, a business which is generally reserved for Bahamians.  At the time that the Home Centre commenced operations, Babak was not and is still not a Bahamian citizen.
5. Babak's construction company actively competed against Bahamian contractors while he served as chairman of the GBPA.
6. When he was appointed as the chairman of the GBPA, Babak needed a work permit in order to hold that office, which was granted by the Christie administration during its term in office between 2002 and 2007.
7. When he assumed office, Ingraham made it patently clear that his government would not renew Babak's work permit and stuck by his word not to do so.  He said what he meant and meant what he said.  This action, according to some, was ostensibly at the core of the differences between the Ingraham administration and Sir Jack Hayward, a substantial shareholder of the GBPA.
We believe that no single individual should be allowed to hold a city, its residents, employees or the government hostage for any reason whatsoever, no matter how substantial their investment might be in this country.   No single individual or group of individuals should be allowed to assault our sovereignty or to withhold benefits from our citizens.  That is non-negotiable.
We have been reliably informed that Babak has and will continue to financially support the political party of his choice in the upcoming elections.  As a permanent resident, albeit with the right to work in his own business, Babak is entitled to support whichever political party or parties he chooses.  However, we trust that any financial support he offers to whichever party he chooses will not be construed as a quid pro quo for any benefit he might wish to receive should the party that he supports become the government.  This includes the issuance of a work permit to become chairman of the GBPA once more.
 
What can a voter do?
In order to avoid this, every voter in Grand Bahama who is approached by PLP and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) candidates should make it patently clear that the only way that such voters would consider supporting either party is for the candidate to promise that, if elected to Parliament, they would vehemently oppose the issuance of a work permit to Babak to work in any capacity at the GBPA, especially as its chairman.  We already know where the FNM stands on this issue.  The real power of the franchise is to hold candidates to principled positions if they are elected.  This is truly where your vote can count and not be wasted on more mundane issues that are often discussed during the election campaign.
For just a moment, if we were to consider dispassionately whether or not Babak is good for Grand Bahama -- which is the only criteria that, in this case, he should be judged by -- we would have to conclude from past behavior that he simply is not.  There are far too many well documented examples of how he proved to be divisive within the GBPA and within the community.
Moreover, the much touted legion of wealthy international investors with whom Babak is supposed to have great influence do not seem to have ever materialized on Grand Bahama's shores.
In fact, for a person who is rumored to be such a global deal-maker, the lack of material on the Internet about him and his business is astounding.  No, dispassionately or otherwise, we are forced to conclude that Babak is not the glittering solution to the problems of Freeport, proving how all that glitters is not gold.
 
Conclusion
We believe that the decision taken by Ingraham not to grant Babak a work permit was unquestionably the correct one at the time.  It was correct then and it is correct now and it will continue to be correct for a recovering Grand Bahama.
The voters should make it clear that any government that attempts to reverse that considered decision will do so at its peril.
 
oPhilip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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