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News Article

September 01, 2011
PM: Acklins damage not as bad as reported

The total cost of damage to Acklins caused by Hurricane Irene should be determined by Friday.
Government officials yesterday completed their assessment of Acklins, exactly one week after Irene ripped through that island.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, Minister of Public Works Neko Grant and officials from the Department of Social Services were on Acklins Wednesday afternoon making final checks of the damage, and maintain it is not as bad as reported.
The delegation also visited Crooked Island, Mayaguana and San Salvador.
"I came particularly to Lovely Bay and Chesters because they were the ones reports said were 90 percent destroyed.  That is not so," said Ingraham.
However, the prime minister did admit that the northern part of the island received a lot of damage.
"We're happy that supplies are getting in.  We're happy that teams are on the ground doing assessments both from the public works perspective and from social services," he said.
"We are providing supplies and people are also volunteering, but the government will do what it has to do."
Acklins Island Administrator Stephen Wilson told The Nassau Guardian that nearly 300 homes were assessed in order to see what supplies were needed, and how much money would need to be pumped into the island.
Wilson added that the assessment information would be sent to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which will then decide how many supplies will be shipped to the island.
The island administrator said he believes Acklins can be restored to a state of normalcy in about two months.
When The Nassau Guardian visited the island yesterday, debris was cleared from the roads and many residents had cleared fallen trees and debris from their yards.
However, there were still several homes in the same condition as they were last week, and many power lines were still down in the Pinefield settlement.
There is still no power at the clinic in Mason's Bay.
According to Ingraham, power has been restored to Selena Point and more than 40 percent of residents in Spring Point have electricity.
He said he expects the power supply on the entire island to be restored soon, but could not say exactly when.
For many residents however, not much has changed in the past week.
Urlene Collie, a resident of Pinefield, said she has no electricity or running water.  Collie and her husband have been suffering since last week.
"It's very hard because I have [high blood] pressure and my husband has to take a straw hat during the night to fan me.  We don't have any power, and we buy water but it still makes you feel bad because it is very hot," she said.
"We've lost everything in our fridge and now we're surviving off of canned goods."
Lovely Bay resident Elvis Collie said it will take him many months to repair his home, and he is struggling to do so with no assistance.
"I'm still in a bad position and nothing has changed.  I have no power, no water and I'm still just waiting for help," he said.
"People say that help is coming but no help has come around here yet."
Humanitarian organization Bahamas Methodist Habitat promised to send international and local teams to Acklins, Cat Island and Crooked Island to assist in rebuilding and restoration efforts, once the government sends supplies.

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News Article

September 01, 2011
PM signs exigency order for hurricane relief

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday signed an exigency order that will allow residents, businesses and hotel owners in Cat Island and Acklins who have been hard hit by Hurricane Irene to bring in certain goods duty free for up to six months.
Residents on Long Cay, Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Inagua and Ragged Island will also benefit from the order.
However, their duty exemption period will be 90 days, the government announced yesterday.
The tax exemption effort, which begins today, will likely impact hundreds of residents and businesses on those islands.
In order for the residents to qualify for the exemption, the minister of finance has to be satisfied that the goods are intended for the relief of residents in the islands mentioned who suffered hardship or loss as a result of Hurricane Irene, the statement said.
Duty free goods include building materials, electrical fixtures and materials, plumbing fixtures and materials, household furniture, and furnishing and appliances.
Also duty free are motor vehicles, motor cycles, and golf carts.
Claims or applications for the duty exemption of those products and goods must be certified by the director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Those in the farming industry whose crops or machinery were damaged can apply to bring in duty free items including supplies for reconstruction and repair to greenhouses, including plant sleeves, timers, plant pots and soil-less growth; supplies for the reconstruction and repair to poultry houses; supplies for the reconstruction and repair of irrigation systems; nursery stock for the re-establishment of fruit orchards; and items required for fencing.
Those in the fishing industry can apply to bring in goods including galvanized sheeting and other materials used in the construction of fishing habitats; fishing boats and fishing gear and apparatus.
The notice added that an individual located anywhere in The Bahamas who suffered hardship or loss to property as a result of Hurricane Irene may also apply for duty relief and will be certified by the appropriate official.
"Where any abuse or misuse of goods imported under this declaration is observed, the goods may be seized and disposed of in accordance with Section 83 of the Customs Management Act," the notice added. 

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News Article

December 28, 2011
Hurricane Irene's destructive path

Hurricane Irene weaved a destructive path across The Bahamas in August, ripping off roofs, toppling trees and breaking utility poles.
As the storm barreled toward the country, just over 1,000 people sought refuge at hurricane shelters.
Packing winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, the powerful storm made landfall on August 23.
Four months later, rebuilding efforts continue.
The category three storm flattened houses and left several Family Islands without electricity for weeks, including Cat Island, which also partially lost its telecommunication services.
Water supplies throughout several islands were also affected.
The storm caused serious structural damage to some government offices, clinics, schools, police stations, and other infrastructure across the country.
Serious damage was also done to public docks in Cooper's Town and Moore's Island, Abaco, and in George Town, Exuma.
Private dwellings and businesses in some Family Islands, including Acklins, Crooked Island, Cat Island, Mayaguana, Exuma and some communities in Abaco were also damaged.
In Orange Creek, Cat Island, 20 percent of buildings were rendered uninhabitable.
Speaking to reporters following the passage of Irene, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said, "Most other island communities have reported varying degrees of damage to private homes, businesses, farms, fishing boats and churches.
"Roofs of homes and other buildings sustained damage in Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Long Island, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, Exuma, Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence.
"Thankfully, Grand Bahama, which bore the brunt of the hurricanes impacting our country in 2004 [and] 2005, was spared the worst of the impact of Hurricane Irene.  Reports indicate that while the eastern end of the island was harder hit than other parts, much of the island received minimal impact from the storm's passing."
New Providence was also spared the brunt of the storm.  Fallen trees and damaged roofs were reported throughout the island.
However, the temporary site that housed the downtown straw market was destroyed, forcing vendors to set up shop on the nearby wharf.
Vendors have since been relocated to the new straw market.
Despite the damage, Ingraham acknowledged that "things could have been much worse".
While The Bahamas was spared serious devastation, the damage was estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
Relief poured in to affected residents from around the country and from outside agencies.
Additionally, the government spent over $300,000 on repair-related expenses for homes in the MICAL constituency that were damaged, and thousands more in other parts of the country.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation also paid substantial sums of money for the repairs made to the electricity and water services.
Hurricane Irene caused nearly $37 million in government losses in The Bahamas, according to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).
In September, Ingraham signed a grant agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for $200,000 that went toward hurricane relief efforts overseen by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
NEMA received more than $850,000 in cash donations-- not including grants, according to officials.

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News Article

May 19, 2014
Baha Mar spends 615 million locally

Continuing its initiative to support local businesses, Baha Mar officials announced yesterday that they have awarded to date in excess of $615 million in local contracts to more than 400 contractors.
The $3.5 billion resort development had initially committed to awarding some $400 million in contracts to Bahamian contractors, but has already far exceeded that commitment, said executives.
According to company officials, Baha Mar has used local companies to provide many of the supplies that have been critical to the construction of the resort.
Rather than importing all of the materials needed for the construction of the resort's four hotels and numerous buildings on the property, Baha Mar has sourced vast quantities of supplies, such as concrete blocks and fencing, from local manufacturers.
Nine miles of hotel balcony railings - the equivalent of 28 basketball courts - have also been manufactured by local businesses.
"We have built strong relationships with many local suppliers who have provided high quality service and products over the three years since we celebrated the groundbreaking," said Paul Pusateri, Baha Mar's chief operating officer. "We are delivering on our promise to provide opportunities for local businesses and grow the economy. Our relationship with hundreds of Bahamian companies from many industries is key to transforming The Bahamas."
Company officials added that while local vendors fill an important role in Baha Mar's construction requirements, materials to furnish the resort such as furniture, fittings and equipment are being imported on schedule for the resort's opening in December.
Last week, officials at the Nassau Container Port noted that imports coming through the port associated with Baha Mar had not yet reached levels that were anticipated by this stage of the resort's development.

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News Article
What's Wrong With Zhivargo Laing
November 21, 2011
What's Wrong With Zhivargo Laing

The short answer: nothing. There's nothing wrong with him. An interesting thing happened in Jamaica recently.  Political junkies didn't miss it, I'm sure. Prime Minister Bruce Golding, 63 years old, stepped down and his Jamaica Labour Party has selected 39-year-old Andrew Holness, the minister of education, to be their leader and consequently, prime minister.

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News Article

August 24, 2011
Supermarkets struggle with surge in 'hurricane business'

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.

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News Article

February 27, 2012
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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News Article

September 02, 2011
US EMBASSY PROVIDES 50,000 IN EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE TO NEMA, RED CROSS

THE US EMBASSY in Nassau has provided $50,000 in assistance to the government of the Bahamas to help Family Island communities most affected by Hurricane Irene.

The funding is being used to purchase emergency relief supplies, including generators, hygiene kits, chainsaws, and water containers for distribution on the Family Islands by the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Bahamas Red Cross Society.

"Through NEMA's assessments, the government of the Bahamas identified a number of critical items that could help accelerate the rebuilding process," US Ambassador to the Bahamas Nicole Avant said.

"Given the close relationship between the United States and t ...

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News Article

October 27, 2011
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

August 27, 2011
Libya: A rough road ahead

For those governments that had been courting Muammar Gaddafi for the money that he handed out to spread his influence around the world, his fall from power in Libya is bad news.  And, the news is unlikely to get better whatever regime replaces him.
As this commentary is being written, Gaddafi is being sought in and near Tripoli.  If he is still in the country, it is only a matter of time before he is caught.  His treatment, if he is captured alive, will depend on who catches him.  In any event, his almost 42-year rule as leader of Libya, which began when he seized power in a military coup in 1969, is at an end.
Despite the recognition by several Western governments of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC), it is by no means certain that as events unfold in the coming months, the Council or the persons who constitute it, will remain in charge.  Indeed, confusion and chaos are likely to reign for some months to come.
There are now large groups of people throughout Libya who are armed with heavy weapons and who feel that, having confronted the Gaddafi power machine, they are entitled to share in the spoils.  They are unlikely to go quietly into the night.
Perhaps it is in acknowledgement of this reality, that Western governments and commentators have been calling for no recriminations (except against Gaddafi and his sons) and to maintain in office the military and public service that served Gaddafi.  They recognize that they made an error in Iraq by getting rid of the military establishment, police and public servants.  There was no one in place, except the Americans and the British to take charge and they had little or no experience of Iraq.  They also had to train a complete police force and rebuild military capability.  In the meantime, lawlessness was rampant everywhere.
One thing is for sure, whether it is the NTC or some other body, Libya now needs a government urgently so as to bring order after months of chaos.  And, whatever government it is, it will be a long time to come before it starts seeking influence and allies by spreading abroad the revenues from Libya's oil.  The focus of any new government will have to be on rebuilding Libya's damaged physical infrastructure and in building a democratic society.  Building such a democratic society will be much more challenging that replacing physical infrastructure.
Libya is not short of money now.  Nor will it be in the future.  The immediate problem confronting the NTC, which will seek to run the country, is that more than $150 billion of Libya's assets are locked up abroad, much of it frozen as part of sanctions applied against Gaddafi.  No doubt the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) who backed the uprising against Gaddafi will want to release some of that money to NTC to allow it to assert its authority in the country.
Other countries, such as South Africa, where Libyan assets are also lodged, will want to be more cautious about whom the funds are released.  They will want to be sure that there is a de facto government in place.  South Africa President Jacob Zuma is on record as saying he wants to see a government in place in Libya and his government has criticized Nigeria for recognizing the NTC even before Gaddafi is officially no longer in any kind of authority.
At the moment, many government salaries have gone unpaid, including the police and the army.  The NTC will only persuade these people to work if they are assured of being paid, and they see an early sign of it.
The NATO countries, themselves, are unlikely to release all of the frozen funds to the NTC at once. The United States, Canada and the European Union countries will be keen to see swift attempts at drafting a constitution for Libya and no doubt will expect to see it in the model of constitutions governing Western countries.  They will also want plans to be put in place for general elections by which the people can choose a government from contending political parties.
The latter will not happen overnight.  A country with no history of political parties and general elections will require a great deal of information and training simply to put the necessary institutions in place. Forming political parties will be even more difficult because they are bound to be fashioned first on narrow political and regional interests before those interests can be merged into bodies with a national reach, if that can be achieved.
It can also be taken for granted that the NATO countries will be pulling strings behind the scenes and openly.  The NTC will clearly do business with the countries and agencies that helped them to topple Gaddafi.  Those countries that remained supportive of Gaddafi or assumed a neutral stance will hardly get a look-in.  The only two exceptions to that rule would be China and Russia with whom Libya would want to continue sensible relations for strategic reasons related to security.
The experts claim that Libya has Africa's highest oil reserves.  But, its national production has been reduced to virtually nothing because of the conflict over the last few months.  They also claim that it will take at least a year before production reaches the level it was before the conflict.  All the more reason why Libya will not be opening a check book to governments around the world any time soon.
The spoils of oil are already well and truly in the hands of French, British and Italian companies and the US can be assured of supplies to meet its demands in the coming years.  What is more, the price of oil is showing signs of going down.  The UN Security Council in giving NATO a chit to help save lives in Libya by protecting those, who rebelled against Gaddafi from his warplanes and bombs, also unintentionally provided a license for helping with regime change.  Many will rightly ponder how to guard against a similar occurrence in the future.
It appears that the majority of people inside Libya are pleased to see the back of Muammar Gaddafi and his reign of terror both inside and outside of the country, but the vacuum he has left needs to be filled.  No one should expect Libya to be stable and well-ordered for some time to come - NATO countries had a role in the war; they must now play a significant role in ensuring the peace.
In the meantime, Libya's check book diplomacy is also at an end.
o Sir Ronald Sanders is a former Caribbean diplomat. Re-published with the permission of Caribbeannewsnow.com

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