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Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - Ladies love to dance, and Ladies love champagne!
Every Thursday night at Neptune's, aside from their ever popular Happy Hour from 7 - 9pm, the Ladies can enjoy
Chandon for only $6.50 a glass (regular price is $12.95).
Enjoy music by DJ Lochs or DJ Say My Name and make it your night to hang with the girls and dance the night away to the most upbeat tunes.
Ladies Night is perfect for a birthday, Hen Night, or Wedding Shower, or simply a night to get away with your BFFs...
There has been so much discussion regarding the House of Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP) that this week we would like to Consider This... exactly what does that report have to say and what conclusions should we draw from it regarding the governance of the Free National Movement (FNM), both past and future.
In publishing its report, the PAC also published a summary of the six conclusions drawn from the main report. For the purposes of this column, we have drawn the following directly from those conclusions.
Failure to comply with financial obligations in contract
In the report, the auditor general observed that there were several instances of non-compliance with the loan contract clauses, including the initiation of competitive bidding, with the timely submission of disbursement requests for financial information and with the Ministry of Works' (MOW) system of internal controls. Additionally, the contractor failed to submit annual maintenance reports, to hire an environmental specialist to monitor the construction and its impact. The executing agency failed to maintain an appropriate system to verify procurement transactions and payment certificates and to obtain the prior review of works by the BEST Commission.
The auditor general noted that poor communication and coordination between agencies and inadequate on-site inspection of the works were serious breaches.
Delays in the NPRIP
The PAC underscored issues that delayed the efficient progress of the NPRIP. Some delays were unavoidable and the contractor received a three-month extension to compensate for them. However, other issues that impacted the progress of the project were avoidable and resulted from negligence.
o Failure to prepare a schedule of issues - Despite the constant and consistent urging by the dispute adjudicator, the PAC noted that Mott McDonald (Mott), the engineering firm, took over a year and a half to produce a schedule of issues which was a management tool to ensure that all dispute matters were expeditiously addressed and that no skeletons would emerge during the latter stages of the project.
o Design delays - These were avoidable delays that resulted from the failure to complete the designs on the project. The contractor expressed concerns on several occasions regarding incomplete drawings and even stated that the delay in producing such drawings was negatively impacting the project's progress, explaining that Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles (JCCC), the project manager, had bid on the project with tender drawings, which were to be updated when the project started, but this never occurred.
o Delays caused by inadequate staffing - The MOW's staff and Mott raised concerns regarding the level and quality of staff employed on the project. The MOW was concerned that JCCC had reduced the level of staff, and that would negatively impact the project. Mott was concerned that JCCC was compromising the quality of work by employing unqualified staff and paying sub-standard rates. JCCC responded that there was insufficient work to justify increased numbers of workers on the various sites.
o Design variations - All parties had agreed that there was a need for a contract program, but eight months into the contract there was none. By this time, variations had to be made to price the contract variations. However, Mott had not accepted the prices and JCCC was reluctant to proceed until the amended price was agreed, but JCCC was unwilling to provide Mott with a breakdown of the prices.
By June 2010, a work program was submitted to and eventually approved by the government. The program prepared by Mott proposed that the number of work job fronts should be increased from four to eight and the amount of monthly work increased to the value of $7.25 million with a completion date extended to September 2012.
o Poor quality of work - In 2010, Mott and the dispute adjudicator expressed concerns over the quality of work by JCCC, whose quality control manager had left in 2009 and had not been replaced. Thereafter it appeared that JCCC did not pay adequate attention to quality control. For example, Mott had identified quality control deficiencies in materials, particularly the concrete and the fill.
Moreover, the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) had raised concerns over the quality of pipes. JCCC could not maintain adequate pressure during pressure testing of the pipes as required by WSC. Eventually Bahamas Hot Mix was subcontracted to lay water mains, with no difficulty in meeting WSC standards.
o Poor coordination of utilities - Interviews with senior BEC and WSC officers confirmed that communications with JCCC were poor. WSC officials indicated they contemplated removing JCCC from its list of approved contractors. The BEC official indicated that JCCC had severed some of its power lines, causing several long disruptions in power supply. The PAC also noted suggestions that the corporations were not always consulted and, accordingly, some of the newly paved roads might have to be dug up.
The PAC noted that while JCCC performed most of the roadworks, some of the work had to be subcontracted.
As of September 2011, total payments to subcontractors exceeded $15 million, 77 percent of which was paid to Bahamas Hot Mix, which was the only subcontractor consulted by JCCC prior to submitting its bid for the project. The committee noted the value of contracts awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix and the special relationship that existed between JCCC and Bahamas Hot Mix.
The PAC concluded that traffic management, which was essential to reduce any disruption to the conduct of business and to minimize any discomfort to the motoring public, was poorly handled by the contractor, the MOW and Mott McDonald. This constant mismanagement, or in some cases lack of management, led to unnecessary gridlock and increased traffic congestion, inconvenience to motorists and to the closure of some businesses as well as damage to vehicles.
A schedule of the cost overruns showed a total of $23,360,368 as of June 2011. Testimony before the PAC confirmed that additional cost overruns were expected to escalate to some $40+ million by the completion of the contract sometime in September 2012. More current estimates place it even higher, at more than 82 percent over budget and climbing.
The PAC concluded that much of this additional cost could have been avoided by better management and supervision and that the cost may have been significantly lower if the government had hedged to protect against the fluctuations in the prices of some of the commodities used in the project.
The PAC noted that the pace and operation of the project were affected by political influences, such as the MOW directing JCCC to complete and open certain roadways for "political/public relations" reasons. Moreover, the MOW expressed the government's concerns about the negative effect that the project might have on the general election in 2012. Pressure was therefore brought to bear for the public to be "reassured that the end was in sight" when it was clear that this was not the case.
Furthermore, the Cabinet made a concerted decision to open construction on additional fronts, recognizing that there would be significant cost increases as well as a significant inconvenience and disruption to the lives of Bahamians.
The PAC concluded that these directives by the government were taken for purely political considerations.
So we asked you to Consider This... if you hired a contractor to work for $113 million and to date the cost exceeded $206 million and was rapidly climbing, and he can't tell you what the final cost will be or when he will finish, what would you do?
o Philip 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Convicted pedophile Andre Birbal will have to wait a little longer to appeal his guilty verdicts for having sex with two male students from the Eight Mile Rock High School.
Birbal is now unrepresented as he fired his court-appointed lawyer Craig Butler at the Court of Appeal yesterday. Birbal, who is appealing his conviction and 35-year sentence, has appeared before the appellate court four times.
Birbal, an art and computer assisted design instructor, taught one of his victims for five years and the other for just six weeks. The victims reported the alleged abuse to the police after they graduated from the school.
Moments after Butler began to outline his grounds of appeal, Birbal told the panel of Court President Anita Allen and Justices of Appeal Stanley John and Abdulai Conteh that he wanted to speak to his lawyer because he had "some serious concerns".
The court recessed for 15 minutes to allow the meeting. When the hearing resumed, Butler told the court, "Having consulted with Mr. Birbal, Mr. Birbal's wish is that he be assigned other counsel to prosecute the appeal on his behalf."
Asked if he had anything to say, Birbal complained that Butler did not come to see him personally and sent two associates, who only met with him for half an hour. Birbal said that he had given Butler's associates a list of additional grounds of appeal, which he felt were not presented to the court.
Butler said that he attempted to encapsulate Birbal's grounds into his legal submissions. He added, "If Mr. Birbal has no confidence in me, it would make it difficult for me to advance this matter."
Allen asked the appellant, "You understand this is going to occasion further delay?"
Birbal replied, "I understand that."
Justice Allen directed that Birbal be appointed new counsel. She set a status hearing for May 21.
At a hearing in February, Butler requested an adjournment because he did not have an opportunity to meet with Birbal. At the time, Butler assured the court that he would be ready to present the appeal at the adjournment. However, he filed his submissions late Friday afternoon.
Nassau, Bahamas - St. Andrew's School student Jared
Fitzgerald performs a piano solo, during the E. Clement Bethel National Arts
Festival Adjudications, on March 22, 2012, at the National Centre for the
Performing Arts, on New Providence.
Tambearly School student
Alexandra Gardner and Lyford Cay International School student Danielle Myers
perform a piano duet, during the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival's New
Providence Adjudications, on March 22, 2012, at the National Centre for the
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
FREEPORT - Following a two-day adjournment, the murder trial of Samiko Rigby is expected to resume today.
The trial was adjourned on Friday for a voir dire hearing, which is conducted in the absence of the jury.
Rigby, who is represented by Carlson Shurland, is on trial for murder, armed robbery and burglary.
It is alleged that in the early morning hours of January 7, 2009, the accused was one of three men who shot 32-year-old Erison Tanelus at his apartment in Hepburn Town, Eight Mile Rock.
According to evidence given at the trial, at around 2am three gunmen forced their way into Apt 5 at Sam Rolle's Apartme ...
During the first administration period of the Free National Movement (FNM), the subvention program for elite athletes was put in place. It was a revolutionary concept and one that contributed greatly to the sustained careers of older athletes and the improvement of the younger ones.
Nassau, Bahamas - Temple
Christian Elementary School students end their choral verse speaking
performance with a flourish, as they score a 90 out of 100, during the E.
Clement Bethel National Arts Festival's New Providence Adjudications, on March
26, 2012, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, on New
Cecilia's Catholic Primary School students perform the choral verse speaking
piece "The Clapboard House", during the E. Clement Bethel National
Arts Festival's New Providence Adjudications, on March 26, 2012, at the
National Centre for the Performing Arts, on New Providence...
THE BAHAMAS DEPARTMENT OF METEOROLOGY HAS ISSUED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FROM 6:50PM EDT UNTIL 8:50PM EDT. MONDAY 1ST OCTOBER 2012.
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT FOR THE BERRY ISLANDS AND NEW PROVIDENCE AND THEIR ADJACENT WATERS.
AT 6:50 PM EDT RADAR AND SATELLITE DATA INDICATED CLUSTERS OF THUNDERSTORMS ACROSS THE BERRY ISLANDS, NEW PROVIDENCE AND THEIR ADJACENT WATERS.
SOME OF THESE THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE SEVERE AT TIMES CAUSING STRONG GUSTY WINDS, DANGEROUS LIGHTNING, HEAVY DOWNPOURS AND POSSIBLE WATERSPOUT OR TORNADIC ACTIVITY.
BOATERS IN THE WARNING AREAS SHOULD SEEK SAFE HARBOUR AND RESIDENTS IN THE WARNING AREAS SHOULD STAY INDOORS AND AWAY FROM WINDOWS WHEN CONDITIONS WORSEN.
RESIDENTS SHOULD ALSO PROTECT THEMSELVES IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS.
Convicted murderer Ellison Smith was rushed to hospital yesterday after he collapsed in the Court of Appeal, complaining of chest pains.
Smith, who is serving a life sentence for the February 1997 murder of FNM Cabinet Minister Charles Virgill, was in court for a status hearing on his appeal against the sentence.
Smith was initially sentenced to death, but the sentence was rendered invalid by a 2006 Privy Council decision that found the mandatory imposition of the death penalty unconstitutional.
He was subsequently given a life sentence, which he has appealed.
During a court appearance last week, the appellate court said the appeal would be a moot point because Smith was already serving a life sentence for armed robbery in the same case.
Yesterday, Smith's lawyer Jairam Mangra told the court he had advised Smith to withdraw the appeal against the life sentence for murder after documents from the Privy Council confirmed that the court had only quashed Smith's sentence for the murder and not the armed robbery as Smith had claimed.
Acting Court of Appeal President Christopher Blackman asked Smith if he understood the position.
Smith confirmed that he did, but he maintained that he had instructed his attorneys in London to appeal the murder and armed robbery.
Blackman explained to Smith that if he wanted to challenge the sentence for the armed robbery, he would have to go directly to the Privy Council.
Prosecutor Eucal Bonaby said the December 22, 2006 Privy Council decision dealt with the armed robbery sentence.
However, Blackman noted that on perusal the judgment showed that "no consideration was given at all" specifically to the sentence of armed robbery.
He said he would adjourn the matter to allow Smith the chance to move the court to consider the armed robbery sentence separately.
Smith fell to the ground when Blackman asked him if he understood what had transpired. The Court rose after the incident. Blackman later adjourned the matter without a date, saying "I hope medical attention is given to assist Mr. Smith as soon as possible."
Nassau, The Bahamas - Uriah McPhee Primary school male
students sing "I'm Proud to be a Bahamian", during the E. Clement
Bethel National Arts Festival's New Providence Adjudications, on March 26, 2012,
at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.
Bread of Life Christian Academy
sings "Party in the Backyard", during the E. Clement Bethel National
Arts Festival's New Providence Adjudications, on March 26, 2012, at the
National Centre for the Performing Arts...
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - Ladies love to dance, and Ladies love champagne!
Every Thursday night at Neptune's, aside from their ever popular Happy Hour from 7 - 9pm, the Ladies can enjoy
Chandon for only $6.50 a glass (regular price is $12.95).
Enjoy music by DJ Lochs or DJ Say My Name and make it your night to hang with the girls and dance the night away to the most upbeat tunes.
Ladies Night is perfect for a birthday, Hen Night, or Wedding Shower, or simply a night to get away with your BFFs...
Nassau, The Bahamas - The Department of
Youth in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture announced recently that the
2011 E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival is scheduled
to begin March 1 at
the Lucaya Convention Centre in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
According to a statement, the Festival's
Grand Bahama adjudications will run until March 11. New Providence will follow, starting on March
14, and running through March 25.
Beginning in April, the statement added,
adjudications will begin in the other Family Islands. Abaco will lead this list on April 4, and ending with Inagua later in the year, the
You've probably been brushing your teeth for as long as you can remember, but approximately 85 percent of all people brush incorrectly according to Dr. Alia Campbell, who practices out of the Center for Specialized Dentistry.
She said that most don't have the time to spare to brush properly, or the time that they do have to spare, they don't allocate enough to the tooth-brushing process.
Speaking at the recent Doctors Hospital Distinguished Lecture Series, Dr. Campbell sought to give people an appreciation for oral hygiene -- how to promote it, how to maintain it and of the dental conditions that can affect overall health and how their overall health could affect dental treatment.
She said that genetically your family may not have the best teeth, but the work you put into your dental hygiene will save your teeth. And it all begins she said with first understanding the meaning of oral hygiene which she said is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems -- most commonly dental cavities, gingivitis and bad breath.
"The primary focus of good oral hygiene is the removal of plaque [a bio-film, usually pale yellow in color that develops naturally on the tooth structure about two to three hours after you brush your teeth] from teeth and supporting structures," said Dr. Campbell.
Dental plaque is formed through the colonizing of bacteria trying to attach themselves to the tooth's smooth surfaces. And according to the dentist, the oral cavity contains the only known anatomical aspect of the human body that does not have a regulated system of shedding surfaces, which are the teeth, unlike the hair or skin on humans that sheds every so often. As the teeth do not have that luxury, tooth brushing comes into play.
"The microorganisms present in dental plaque are all naturally present in the oral cavity, and are normally harmless, however, failure to remove the plaque by regular tooth brushing means that the plaque get thicker. Those microorganisms nearest the tooth surface ferment dietary sucrose and produces acids, so anything you eat, or anything that is left in your mouth for a long period of time [over five hours], the bacteria that forms the plaque is going to use it to break it down to produce acids. Acids released from the dental plaque lead to the demineralization or the breakdown of the adjacent tooth surface and consequently lead to dental caries [cavities]."
As saliva is also unable to penetrate and cannot act to neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria, the dentist said irritation of the gums around the teeth is caused which can lead to gingivitis, periodontal disease and then tooth loss. She said plaque build-up can also become mineralized by the saliva and form calculus (tartar), and if the plaque is allowed to get to a specific thickness or very thick, where it can actually be seen with the naked eye and it starts to produce bacteria the layer of the bacteria that is closest to the tooth where it's residing, it's going to spit the acid on it and start the caries process.
The dentist said saliva can be a good and bad thing.
"Seeing that we don't walk around brushing our teeth all day, and we cannot walk around with mouth rinse in our mouth all day, the saliva's job with your tongue is to wash and wipe when you're unable to brush. If plaque at the lower or any surface of your teeth is able to lie dormant there too long, the saliva, because of the components in the saliva is going to harden it, so now it cannot be brushed away by a toothbrush and you have to go to the dentist to have it scraped off.
Even though people should visit their dentist at least every six months to have their teeth professionally cleaned, the dentist said visits to the medical professional and proper home care should go hand-in-hand to ensure oral health.
Proper brushing technique
"Most people brush by scrubbing [back and forth] their teeth with all of the pressure known to man. They hold the toothbrush tight, and are either using a hard toothbrush, which is a definite no-no or a medium toothbrush that is also a no-no -- you are supposed to use a soft brush," said Dr. Campbell. "A soft toothbrush is very important for you to use, because with all that he-man force that you're going to use to make sure that all of your teeth are spotless and clean, you're going to end up brushing away your enamel, which is the hardest, naturally occurring substance known to man, so when you break a tooth, or a cavity is able to form a hole in a tooth, that means that has been sitting there for months even years."
The dentist said a classic mistake most people employ when brushing is to hold their brushes too tight. She said brushes should be held lightly and instead of a back and forth and up and down motion she said they should be making circular motions which would enable them to get under the portion of their gum line that has to be brushed as well as the part that they see in the mirror every morning.
"You want to do circular movements so the toothbrush bristles sweep under the gum, sweeping the plaque, which people usually miss in the 30 seconds that they brush their teeth or just not knowing how to do it," she said. "You should do circular movements on the lip and cheek surfaces of your teeth, then when you get to the biting surfaces, then you can do your back and forth."
Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day in the mornings and evenings. And she encourages the use of fluoride products as she says fluoride has the ability to prevent the bacteria from forming acids.
"It blocks the enzyme that the bacteria needs in order to produce that acid. And when you have early cavities, [fluoride] also has the ability to fill the voids in the tooth's surface," she said.
Dr. Campbell said you should always brush your teeth before you have breakfast in the morning because digestion starts in the mouth. And once food is introduced into the mouth, your saliva components start to break it down and digestion needs the pH of your mouth to be decreased in order to work. If the pH of your mouth is decreased, that means the environment becomes very acidic -- and putting a toothbrush on an acidic surface means that you end up brushing away enamel -- and over the course of time your enamel thins, and then you wonder why your teeth are becoming so sensitive. She said the dentist then becomes your best friend.
Teeth have four surfaces, the front, back and two sides. Dr. Campbell said everyone can reach their front and back teeth when brushing, but when it comes to their side teeth she said they must ensure that they use floss as toothbrush bristles cannot get in between contact teeth.
The proper way to floss
To floss properly, the floss must be kept as short as possible. When flossing the upper teeth, you curve the floss around the crown of the tooth and pull down, wipe the floss, pull down and wipe. If you don't wipe the floss, in between each tooth swipe, the dentist said all the bacteria that was removes from the contact areas would be put right back and you re-infect the area. The flossing technique she said is the same in reverse for the bottom teeth, in that you pull the floss up.
She said flossing should be done at least once per day. If they can only floss once a day, she said she tells her patients to make it an end-of-day ritual after all the meals and snacks.
Dr. Campbell said one missed day of flossing can mean some sort of inflammation and that people become concerned because their gums start to bleed. But she said it's all because they did not floss.
"When you miss that one day of flossing and get that little bit of blood, it takes about a week of flossing continuously to get rid of it."
She encourages the use of mouthwash before retiring for the night because saliva flow decreases when people are asleep so they are unable to get the buffering neutralizing privilege that saliva offers during that time.
"So if you have the mouthwash and the fluoride that coats your teeth when it's dry, then when you wake up in the morning, your mouth will be less pasty, a little fresher and it'll feel a lot better," she said.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to a myriad of problems from a cavity that can be filled to the severity of death, according to Dr. Campbell.
"Gingivitis is the reversible inflammation limited to the soft tissues that surround the teeth. It occurs from the lack of or improper oral hygiene. Gingivitis signs can occur in about 48 hours after improper or lack of brushing. Inflammation of the gingival (gums) may be localized or generalized, meaning you can brush one area better than you brush another area. So the front of your mouth is usually spotless because that's what everybody sees and you spend all your time scrubbing away at the front of your mouth, and the teeth at the back you neglect, so back there usually starts to get inflamed.
In the treatment of gingivitis, she said the dentist would try to reduce the amount of bacteria that is causing the problem by removing the plaque, and that the treatment could be as simple as going to the dentist's office for your bi-annual cleanings.
Ensuring that your teeth and gums are healthy is a partnership said Dr. Campbell. She said what is done in the dentist's office has to be followed up with at home with proper brushing and the use of any other dental adjuncts such as mouthwash.
"You have to follow your dental hygiene instructions to the 'T' in order to see results because when you ignore gingivitis, it turns into periodontal disease. We can stop gingivitis and change it, and you can go back to normal ... periodontal disease and what we know as bone and gum disease is irreversible. It is the irreversible inflammation of the gingival tissues along with some loss of both the attachment of the periodontal ligament [the ligament that holds tooth to bone] and bony support. In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces [called pockets] that the plaque that you haven't been removing properly will start to infect. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Because you have pockets, you have more surface area for the plaque or bacteria to hide in and cause more damage. Bacterial toxins and the body's natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissues that hold teeth in place. The teeth may eventually become loose and fall out, or you may have to come in and we may have to remove them."
Dr. Campbell said teeth are only as secure as the bone they reside in.
Risk factors for periodontal disease
Risk factors for periodontal disease include smoking, hormonal changes in females, diabetes, medications and genetic susceptibility.
"Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances of successful treatment. So you come in with periodontal disease with this habit, we clean everything up, we send you home and even though you may be doing everything you're supposed to be doing cleaning wise at home, you're still smoking so it's not really going to help," she said.
Hormonal changes in females she said can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
"Because we have high levels of progesterone naturally or we take oral contraceptives or during pregnancy, the blood vessels in our gum tissue start to dilate so inflammation becomes easier and we become more susceptible for inflammation."
Diabetics she said have a higher risk for developing infections including gum disease and periodontal disease. Treatments for other diseases like cancer and AIDS she said can also negatively affect the health of your gums. Hundreds of over-the-counter medications she said can reduce the flow of saliva, while some medicines can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue that she said could make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
And even if all the precautions are taken, the dentist said genetic susceptibility means that some people are more prone to severe gum disease than others.
Dr. Campbell said the main goal of treatment is to control the infection, but that the number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of a person's gum disease -- whether they have early, moderate or severe gum disease. While treatments are tailored to each patient, she said any treatment requires the patient to keep up a good daily care at home and try their best to stop bad habits.
Treatments can take the form of deep cleaning in which they scale (scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line) and root planing (getting rid of rough spots on the tooth where the germs gather.); to antibiotics being administered orally or in gel form into the pockets; or surgery or bone grafts in severe cases.
Signs and symptoms of tooth decay
But before you get to that point, Dr. Campbell said there are always signs in tooth decay. She said it starts off as a white spot and it usually goes into the enamel. When this is ignored because you have no symptoms, or all of the food and drink that you consume start to clog up, the early caries start to get stained and they turn from a white frostiness to a brown color. When you ignore these the cavity progresses into the second layer of the tooth, which is the dentine (which allows you to feel sensation to cold.) When you ignore the cold sensation and the decay is allowed to progress then it progresses into your pulp (where you feel pain to hot) that has only pain fibers in it. Once the decay gets into the pulp it starts to kill the nerves in the blood vessels so the tooth starts to die.
If caught very early, Dr. Campbell said enamel caries (holes), can be plugged through the use of mouth rinse and fluoride. If it's a late enamel cavity, she said you will require a filling either it's silver if your dentist is up in age, and if they're kind of young -- 50 and younger she said they would use a tooth-colored filling called a composite.
"Dental caries is usually still an easy fix. They put a little liner on the floor of the cavity then fill it with a filling material. When you ignore and it gets to your pulp and you get that pain, you have two options, you can either pull it out, which I never advocate or you can get a root canal that I always advocate. I don't like to pull out teeth because bone and tooth root go hand-in-hand. When you pull out your tooth root out of your jawbone, it sends a message to your brain to say I don't need this nice thick high bone anymore and your bone starts to shrink. Along with that shrinking bone, teeth on the opposite side start to drift into the space. Also, the tooth on the top goes hand-in-hand with the lower tooth. They are each other's best friend, once one is not hitting the other, one is going to go looking for the other one and you get super eruption of teeth which means your tooth will start to grow out of the bone, you get root exposure and you will end up having to pull out the tooth because there's nothing we can do for root exposure and you will have to pull out the tooth," she said.
And she said that once a person has had Pulpal caries they never forget the pain associated with it. She said they hurt at ungodly hours and do not respect a person's sleep. "They never hurt between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. They always wake you up out of your sleep around 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. and I'm told it's one of the most severe pains known to women [I use them as an example because they have gone through childbirth] and there's like no comparison because toothache pain is just a different type of pain."
If the infection isn't dealt with she said it could lead to other things -- Periapical cyst, abscess, cellulitis and Lugdwigs Angina.
Periapical cyst happens when the infection escapes from the tip of root to the surrounding area. She said the infection always takes the path of least resistance. A dental abscess is a localized collection of pus associated with a decayed tooth. Cellulitis is the abscess that got worse and the skin starts to get infected, so it's a localized or diffuse inflammation of tissue caused by bacteria with severe inflammation of dermal and subcutaneous layers of the skin. And that Ludwigs Angina is a serious, potentially life-threatening cellulitis, or connective tissue infection of the floor of the mouth, usually occurring with continuous dental infections. If left untreated it may obstruct the airway, cause suffocation and death.
"Dental infections account for approximately eight percent of cases of Ludwig's angina. The route of infection in most cases is from infected lower molars which is an infection of the gums surrounding the partially erupted wisdom teeth.
Signs and symptoms she said include bilateral lower facial swelling around the lower jaw and upper neck because the infection starts to spread and inflammation takes over and that it can result in Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), pain during swallowing she said is typically seen and demands immediate attention. And that swelling can force the tongue upward and backward, further compromising the airway.
If you have any type of cellulitis or large swelling, Dr. Campbell said hospitalization is usually warranted and an incision is made in the cheek to allow the abscess to be drained. She said it is not a nice process either for the patient or the medical professional.
"Ludwig's angina is a life-threatening condition and carries a fatality rate of about five percent," she said.
As for the myth about bad breath that if you're too close to any scent you can't smell it, the dentist dispelled it as an absolute lie. She said that there's nothing worse than bad breath.
BARBADOS - Passionate about tourism, Adrian Loveridge, a British expatriate living in Barbados and owner/operator of the Peach and Quiet Inn, views value-added tax (VAT) as "a fairly sensible way of collecting taxation".
He said the key for the tourism industry though are the rates applied and issues with the timeliness of government's refund mechanism.
During a question and answer session with the governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Loveridge suggested that the government may need to keep a closer eye on how much of the VAT revenue on sales of vacations in Barbados made outside of the country by some of the larger hotels and resorts is being returned to the government's coffers.
Like quite a number of other Barbadian business people this newspaper spoke with last week, Loveridge said that getting VAT refunds from the government has been a problematic area, with some properties going as long as four years without receiving significant funds owed.
"The government has been very tardy," Loveridge stated.
This, he said, can often arise when hotel properties undergo renovations during the quiet summer months. He said some businesses expend major sums on upgrading their facilities, on which they pay out VAT, only to find that the VAT they collect on their sales over the coming months fails to match that paid out, leaving them in a deficit position which the government is not willing to refund them for.
In such cases, hoteliers have "got no revenue and the only other option is to go into overdraft to pay overdraft rates while government is owing you money, and that further compounds the problem," advised Loveridge in an interview.
However, Loveridge said he is not against VAT because it simplified matters. What he does care about is what rate it is charged at, and how well it is administered.
Barbados, a Caribbean island of around 285,000 people which depends primarily on tourism and international business and financial services for its economic wellbeing and which is struggling to turn around a burgeoning debt problem, has more than a few things in common with The Bahamas.
Loveridge started the Peach and Quiet Inn with his wife 25 years ago, and is now in his 15th year in tourism, having worked in 67 countries around the world as a tour operator, travel agent, tour director and hotelier.
"It's the only thing I know anything about," he quipped.
Commenting on VAT in the Barbadian tourism context, Loveridge said: "In the case of Barbados it replaced a whole pile of other taxes with one tax.
"But it has to be a sensible rate of VAT. I've seen VAT implemented in Europe, in the UK and in Barbados and to me it's actually a fairly sensible way of collecting taxation but it's the level of VAT that you do.
"Once you start going anything above 10 percent I think it's a huge deterrent. Tourism is a very competitive product, there are destinations coming out all the time and growing in importance, so you have to remain competitive.
"You can be a little bit more expensive but you have to give good service and value for money to allow people to come away and feel like they've got value for money, and it gets to a point where government imposes so many taxes that it ceases to exist because people look at the bill and say 'Well how on earth could it get to that kind of price'?"
One area in which Loveridge was adamant was the need to apply a flat rate of VAT across all tourism and tourism-related services. In The Bahamas, the government has proposed that a 10 percent VAT will be charged on all accommodation and room-related transactions, while a 15 percent rate would apply to other services such as tours, rental cars or even restaurants just outside of the main hotel property - such as in Atlantis' Marina Village; something hoteliers such as Atlantis President and Managing Director George Markantonis expressed opposition to.
"That's a huge mistake," Loveridge said. "Keep it at the same level for everything.
"But I think it's differential. Why should it be more expensive, tax wise, to eat a meal or rent a car than it is to stay in a hotel room?
"Keep it even and keep it at a rate where the government's got revenue to maintain infrastructure, the police force, etc, but keep it at a sensible level.
"What I would like to see in Barbados in terms of VAT is to treat tourism as an export and keep it at one level, so 7.5 percent for everything, whether you rent a car, go into a restaurant, stay at a hotel or villa, and the attractions and activities. Government needs the revenue but don't make it excessive; give us a competitive advantage over other places."
The government recently recognized this argument and during a year when Barbadian stopover tourist arrivals fell the most in the region - second only to The Bahamas - last year it announced it would adjust the rate back down from 8.75 percent to 7.5 percent, the rate first applied on the sector when VAT came into effect in 1997. And it said it would extend this rate to direct tourism services.
However, Loveridge said it later backtracked on that commitment when it determined it would be too costly to government revenue, and implemented a more conditional access to the rate for certain non-hotel related services, in which businesses must prove - among other things - that at least 75 percent of its revenue comes from foreign exchange.
The concessionary rate does not apply to standalone restaurants, activities or attractions, and for smaller properties it will be a major hurdle.
"It's a very complex procedure," he said.
Loveridge said he views VAT as at least "partially" responsible for a decline in the Barbadian tourism industry, which has seen 37 hotels close in the past 20 years; a figure he said is above any other Caribbean country. It has also been affected, like other countries in the region, by the implementation of the APD passenger tax by the British government, and substantial rises in utility costs.
In a recent interview with Guardian Business, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Delisle Worrell said he takes the "fairly radical stance" that despite its relative success as a revenue-raising measure, VAT is an "anti-tourism tax" that hurts tourism-based countries, is "horribly complicated" for both businesses and the government to administer, and it is for this reason that he thinks Barbados would be better off replacing it with a "simple sales tax".
Asked about Worrell's proposal, which the government is not officially said to be considering, Loveridge agreed: "Really I think it's a more logical thing to have (a sales tax).
"If it's at a certain level the average visitor is intelligent enough to know if it's below 10 percent, they can see we are getting a safe environment, the roads are being paved, they'll pay it because they are used to paying it in other places.
"If it goes above a sensible level they'll say well why should I pay it?"
His comments suggest that even after almost 17 years in existence, VAT is still a work in progress in Barbados, but also a policy measure that is not in itself considered to have been a nail in the coffin of the industry. However, recent adjustments to the policy indicate that managing VAT in a down economy, as The Bahamas will be doing, has proven more challenging than it has in the past.
A Wall Street credit agency has commended the government's decision to seek private involvement in the financing of major public works projects, but has suggested that its final judgment on the wisdom of the decision to undertake capital works in 2014 will depend on whether the works are "important for the economy overall".
Dr. Lisa Schineller, lead analyst for The Bahamas with Standard and Poor's, said that with "challenges continuing to weigh on the fiscal side" for The Bahamas, a "clear question" with respect to the decision to undertake "major" capital expenditure this year will be what the government chooses to spend money on.
Addressing the Bahamas Business Outlook on Monday, Christie said that the government will undertake capital works this year with a view to stimulating the economy. This comes in a context in which the government is also seeking to reduce spending overall as it moves to cut back on the deficit. Christie also stated that the government is looking to enter into public-private partnerships (PPPs) which would see the private sector "put up capital" for the infrastructure works.
His announcement comes as the government's expenditure on capital projects dipped significantly in 2013, as several major publicly-funded projects came to completion, and no new projects were launched. In the first quarter of the 2013/2014 fiscal year, capital spending fell by 51.5 percent to $30.2 million, compared with a more than doubling to $62.3 million in the same quarter the previous year.
Commenting on Christie's statements, Schineller told Guardian Business: "We don't have a booming growth outlook, we are expecting growth of around two percent of GDP this year, and with all the changes continuing to weigh on the fiscal side, the clear question is whether the public works projects are important for the economy overall.
"A PPP approach, where it is not all in the government's budget, that sounds like something that would sit with trying to contain expenditure growth.
"You do still have within the budget continued capex (capital expenditure) commitments, so the question will also be to what extent are these (projects proposed by Christie) new or an adjustment to what was already intended, and would you make adjustments and rationalization on the current (spending) side to compensate," said Schineller.
"Those are some of the questions we would look at, but clearly involving the private sector to alleviate pressure on the budget makes a lot of sense."
Christie gave the example of plans for at least two major buildings to be constructed on John F. Kennedy Drive on property near to the existing attorney general's office and the Ministry of Works, as well as significant repairs to buildings such as the Rodney Bain building and the Ministry of Tourism, as some of the projects set to get underway.
With the construction sector, a major employer behind tourism, the government, and the financial sector, expressing concerns that 2014 is looking bleak, seeking ways to stimulate activity in this area makes sense for the government, as it looks to chip away at unemployment levels.
However, with both internal and external stakeholders looking to the government to at least hold the line in spending as it seeks support for implementing new taxes, justifying the expenditure will now be harder than in previous years.
Nassau, The Bahamas - Sts.
Francis and Joseph School Recorder Ensemble entertains the audience,
during the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival's New Providence
Adjudications, on March 26, 2012, at the National Centre for the
Performing Arts, on New Providence.
Centreville Primary School
student Alphonso Leadon plays the recorder impressively, during the E.
Clement Bethel National Arts Festival's New Providence Adjudications,
on March 26, 2012, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, on
It's going to be a domino-slamming, good food eating, merry-making kind of time over the upcoming holiday weekend in Wemyss Bight, Eleuthera at their 14th annual "Back Ta Ya Roots" Homecoming Festival.
The biggest family reunion initiative in the quiet settlement kicks off on Sunday, October 9 with eight days of activities, through Sunday, October 16 at the Charles Symonette Community Park.
If you're one of those people who think if you've been to one homecoming before, you've seen them all, then you've got another thing coming. Organizers of the "Back Ta Ya Roots" Festival say this year's event will be bigger and better than its ever been.
"It will be really fantastic this year," said Francis Friend, vice president of the festival committee. "You can enjoy old favorites like hoopla, bid whist and other fun games. But what is really going to be special will be the many other activities, from our unique cultural show where the youth will be the stars, to our amazing fashion show to showcase the spunk and fashion sense of our islands, to an awesome bridal show, and of course our live band, the Rum Runners really taking the show to a new level."
The gospel-inclined attendees won't feel left out, with a number of church services held all week and an earth-shaking "Gospel Explosion" featuring native Eleutherans Latisha Sweeting-Rolle and her brother Lamont Sweeting.
"In order for this to be a truly blessed event you cannot miss out on God. He will guide us through and make us stand strong," says Friend. "It will be a blessed time and people are bound to just love it from start to finish. So bring your dancing shoes to dance to the good music, your bowl to eat the good food and your chair to participate in our domino and whist tournaments. It's going to be amazing and if you need to relax for a few, days then this is it."
To top off this wonderful event the menu for the weekend will have your mouth watering and your appetite will not be satisfied until you try a little bit from every stall. There will be must-haves like peas and rice, baked chicken, fried chicken, ribs, macaroni, coleslaw and plantain to down home favorites like coconut and pineapple tarts, carrot cakes, rum cakes, freshly made daiquiris and coconut water, guava duff and the famous Wemyss' Bight conch fritters.
A special treat will come in the form of the popular surf and turf prepared fresh on the grill all week long to top off what will also be a foodie's delight holiday week.
It will be all about having fun in the sun for Roselyn Bethel, a native Eleutheran who has not visited her home for a long time and will be making a return. She can't wait to make her homecoming journey to her island to re-connect with family and friends.
"I have missed birthdays, weddings and funerals for family members over in Eleuthera and I barely remember who is who, but this homecoming I will totally be catching up. My kids have never seen our family or even the island itself, so I will be remedying that this holiday. It is just a wonderful feeling knowing I am going home. I will be heading over to have a ball."
Twenty-year-old Sean Young plans to be on the first thing "smoking" this Friday to get to Wemyss Bight. The college student says he may not get home for Mother's Day, Easter or other holidays but he makes it a point to be at home, front and center every homecoming.
"I don't know what it is, but being home at this time is one of the best feelings in the world. My mom may get mad that I don't make it for her birthday or Mother's Day but she knows I will be here for this. I just love the family feeling and the fun times you have every year. To me it gets better and better. It's a good time to meet up with family and friends or even meet new people. I just love the activities and the community effort it takes to make it all happen. It's just fantastic and I hope a lot of people come to support the event this year," he said.
Sunday, October 9
11 a.m. -- Church service,
Our Lady's Catholic Church
Monday, October 10
All day whist and domino tournaments, Charles Symonette Community Park
Tuesday, October 11
All day whist and domino tournaments, Charles Symonette Community Park
Wednesday, October 12
Fun all day, Charles Symonette Community Park
Thursday, October 13
Fun all day
8 p.m. - 9 p.m. -- Official Opening and Awards Ceremony, Charles Symonette Community Park
Friday, October 14
Fun all day
Cultural Entertainment Show - Rum Runners live band and music by DJ Snow all day, Charles Symonette Community Park
Saturday, October 15
Cultural and Entertainment Show - Rum Runners live band and music by DJ Snow all day, Charles Symonette Community Park
Sunday, October 16
Fun all day
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. -- Gospel Explosion, Charles Symonette Community Park
Share prices dipped by around 3.5 percent for the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) as Norwegian oil giant Statoil decided it would end its development joint venture with the company that is looking for oil in Bahamian territory.
BPC CEO Simon Potter suggested that with the decision of Statoil to leave the partnership, it will create greater opportunities for the company to offer a greater slice of the pie to potential partners as it continues to search for companies to drill for the oil it believes to be under the ocean floor in the area covered by its existing five licenses.
However, some observers speculated that the withdrawal of the oil major, which joined with BPC prior to the completion of the most recent seismic scans, would be seen as reduced confidence in an oil find in The Bahamas, with the only major oil company to have expressed a concrete interest in Bahamian oil prospects to date via a partnership deal now having withdrawn from the process.
In a statement issued yesterday, Potter said that Statoil had indicated its "intention to discontinue the joint licence development agreement held with the company following significant exploration successes elsewhere and a subsequent review of its global portfolio".
"As a result of this decision, the three licence applications - Zapata, Falcones and Islamorada - will revert into the company's sole name," Potter said.
BPC currently holds five other licenses which were extended in 2013 until 2016. It is undertaking a farm-out process with respect to those licenses, through which it hopes to find a larger company which would finance the development of an oil well in return for a share of the returns should oil be discovered through the drilling process.
Potter said: "We are now in a position to take whole ownership of the secondary area licence application process and provide an attractive opportunity for potential new farm-in partners. The three licence applications lie adjacent to four of the company's fully permitted southern licences and present on-trend upsides to parties already engaged in farm-in discussions.
"We are excited about the level of interest in our data room, which today's announcement will further support. We have been encouraged by progressing farm-out discussions and a newly clarified government mandate to proceed with exploration drilling."
At the time of its signing in 2009, BPC's then Chief Executive Officer Paul Crevello, called the joint venture with Statoil the first "major Bahamian exploration project in 22 years".
On its part, Statoil said upon the signing of the agreement that limited historic seismic and satellite data indicated "the presence of several large structures in the licence areas" and added that further seismic scans could provide a clearer picture.
Under the agreement, Statoil was to become operator of three offshore exploration licences in the Cay Sal region in south-western Bahamas.
Industry sources close to BPC suggested that the decision by Statoil to pull out of the joint venture may have related to the extended period of time it had taken for the license applications to be approved by the government of The Bahamas.
"I think Statoil is used to seeing these types of things approved more quickly," said a source.
Like BPC, the source suggested that the amount of time elapsed had contributed to the fact that Statoil's global capital allocation had shifted away from this region.
Statoil's recent major exploration finds in Tanzania, and success in its U.S. shale portfolio, may have contributed to the shift in focus from The Bahamas.
BPC had fully-funded the license application process.
Potter said of the deal's termination: "This notification does not affect the status or activities within currently awarded exploration licences, which includes an obligation to commence an exploration well by April 2015. [BPC] expects to meet the obligation, subject to financing via a farm-out agreement, with an exploration well in the southern licences.
"Additional progress made in 2013 includes: any public consultation process on future oil development in country deferred until after commercial reserves have been established through successful exploration drilling; notification that the new term for the five licences held by the company would be for a further three years to 2016; southern licences boundary adjusted to conform to The Bahamas - Cuban maritime boundary, securing tenure over the full extent of the currently delineated structures post the 3D interpretation and mapping; and opening of the data room, leading to on-going farm-out discussions with interested parties."
"Coupled with a robust cash position, our positive outlook remains unchanged as we focus on preparations during the year for the first exploration well," added the executive.
Share prices fell to 4.15 pounds sterling yesterday upon the news.
Bahamas Statoil owns the South Riding Point storage and transshipment terminal.
Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett, with responsibility for the oil sector, did not return messages seeking comment up to press time.
A mixture of optimism and an expectation of challenging and uncertain circumstances to come characterize the views of a number of leading figures in Guardian Business' round up of opinions on what 2014 has to hold for The Bahamas in terms of growth, unemployment levels, government policy initiatives and the outlook for a variety of key sectors.
Here James Smith, former central bank governor and chairman of Colina Financial Advisors Limited (CFAL); George Markantonis, president and managing director of Atlantis Resort; Anthony Ferguson, president of CFAL; Aliya Allen, chief executive officer and executive director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board; Franon Wilson, president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association; and a top banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, offer their views on what The Bahamas can expect in 2014.
James Smith said he expects The Bahamas to experience "some modest economic growth in 2014, but at an insufficiently high level to produce any dramatic change in the unemployment rate".
"The Bahamas is still emerging slowly from the deep recession which began in 2008 and was marked by negative GDP growth rates for most of the period, accompanied by high unemployment rates; more than doubling from 7.5 percent at the end of 2007 to a little over 16 percent currently," he said.
"Given the unflattering macroeconomic statistics of 2013, any positive trends for 2014 are likely to be at best 'modest' since we would be projecting from an already low base."
"Our major economic sector, tourism, is likely to continue to face headwinds in 2014 because our major market, the USA, projected GDP growth and lower unemployment levels are unlikely to be sufficient to dramatically alter the fall-off in tourist expenditure, total room revenue and average occupancy rates experienced in The Bahamas over the last three quarters of 2013," Smith said. "There is likely to be an improvement in employment levels in the tourist sector as a result of accelerated job additions to meet the December 2014 deadline of the Baha Mar project."
On the financial sector
"The second largest economic sector, financial services, continues to operate under the stressful conditions induced by international regulators' demands for increased capitalization, which in turn has led to some downsizing in the local market in order to preserve profit levels or to avoid stringent regulatory oversight," he said.
"The continued losses of high-end jobs in the financial services sector would compress overall demand for goods and services locally and present a challenge to economic growth throughout 2014."
"Our third largest sector, construction, which accounts for about 10 percent of GDP but also has the highest proportion of value-added contribution to GDP, is expected to continue to perform poorly as a result of the fall-off in demand for new construction and the restraint on new mortgage loans in the banking sector, which continues to be plagued with abnormally high loan arrears portfolios of over $1.2 billion at the end of the third quarter in 2013," he said.
"The moderation in consumer prices as a result of declining oil prices is likely to be tempered somewhat with the planned introduction of a new consumer-based tax during the second quarter of 2014.
On foreign direct investment
"Plans in the pipeline for some major and minor FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) projects in the tourism sector could have a positive impact on economic growth and employment levels if they materialize over the next several months," Smith said.
"However, there is likely to be a continued drag on the economy; one that cannot be adequately addressed by increased government spending at a time when a growing public sector debt issue is being closely monitored by both local and international lenders."
George Markantonis, president and managing director of the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, the country's largest private sector employer, said he is very optimistic about 2014 based on the pace of bookings the resort is seeing for the new year.
"Only February seems somewhat weak in the first four months and we are taking steps to try and correct that," he said. "We believe that the improving American economy, the stable U.S. housing market and the climbing Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) are all creating more consumer confidence in the U.S. which realistically provides us with 85 percent of our annual business.
"A bright spot on the horizon is our group booking pace continuing to grow, while a dark spot is the declining airlift coming into the country. December numbers released (last week) show year-on-year decline in seats of eight percent, mostly due to reduced December service of American from Dallas and Jet blue from Ft. Lauderdale."
New trends in tourism that The Bahamian tourism sector will need to consider in 2014:
"New gaming licenses are being approved across the United States which will continue to add competition for our casinos," he said. "In addition cruise lines are continuing to add non-traditional attractions to their new mega-ships thereby directly competing with land-based mega-resorts, that is water slides, celebrity chef restaurants etc, etc."
Major policy steps the government could take to impact the tourism sector in 2014:
"We are very pleased that government is reviewing the gaming regulations of course but hope that there will be some significant steps taken to reduce utility costs across the sector, and to minimize the addition of more fees to business which will have to be passed on to the consumer and may impact the value perception of the destination," he said.
Anthony Ferguson said he expects a "challenging" 2014.
"I think 2014 will be a challenging one for The Bahamas as the U.S. slows in the first half coupled with the implementation of value-added tax (VAT) which would cause businesses to delay any hiring and expansion decisions," he said. "This will be countered by Baha Mar as they look to hire and train for the December opening. However 5,000 kids graduating from school in 2014 will negate Baha Mar hiring."
On unemployment levels
"I don't think we can really reduce unemployment in 2014 as the Baha Mar hiring will be offset by the 5,000 school graduates," Ferguson said. "To rescue employment the government needs to balance new taxes against incentives for businesses to consider expanding their business."
On policy initiatives which could stimulate the private sector:
"The government should reduce the red tape, allow economic passports, revisit immigration policy," he said.
"It's mind blowing that the Department of Labour are directing businesses who to interview and hire. It's also socialist. And if they sent qualified people you be grateful!
"The government needs to reshuffle the Cabinet and implement an economic planning ministry to develop a 20 year strategy for Bahamas Inc. Unless we do this we are headed in the direction of the rest of the Caribbean."
Aliya Allen, CEO and executive director of the BFSB, said she is upbeat about the potential for 2014 to generate more opportunity and greater returns for the financial services sector.
"Generally, we see a number of bright spots for financial services, as a result of the initiatives we have undertaken in recent and past years," she said.
"These include ongoing developments in the captive insurance and funds sectors, as well as continuing to solidify our position as a leader in wealth management."
Major trends or changes that The Bahamas will have to adapt to in 2014:
"The cost of compliance will continue to be a challenge, with initiatives like FATCA, for example. Indeed, I would add to that the cost of compliance with VAT, even for firms that benefit from zero rating but wish to reclaim inputs," she said.
Significant policy steps the government could take to positively impact the financial sector:
"The government has demonstrated a historic commitment to the financial community," Allen said.
"If this commitment could be expanded to include additional resources we could truly be first in class in business, both local and international. That extends to setting and monitoring turn around times in all effective business processes and departments such as the Department of Immigration, the Registrar Generals Department, and the Bahamas Investment Authority."
Franon Wilson, president of Arawak Homes and the Bahamas Real Estate Association, said he too is optimistic about what the new year holds for the economy.
"I am optimistic in large part because of Baha Mar, and in that regard even though the hotel will not open during the course of this year they'll probably be hiring a lot of people and that will be a big jolt in our economy," he said.
"I do think the levels will come down. I don't think it's going to happen overnight and go back to 2005 or 2006 levels, but I do think now it is moving slowly in that direction and that will give a boost. We won't be in the clear but we'll be moving in the right direction."
On policy initiatives that could stimulate the private sector:
"At the end of the day certainty is key and I accept the country's financial position is in a state where we need some type of reform to help the government to move forward and maintain the standard we have right now, whether it's VAT or a blend of VAT and something else; whatever it is, I'm looking forward to getting that process done so we can move forward. We need to deal with it and move forward."
A leading banker, who offered his views on condition of anonymity, told Guardian Business he fears The Bahamas will "let a good crisis go to waste" in 2014.
"Rahm Emanuel, the former Chief of Staff for [U.S. President Barack] Obama said something along the lines of 'You never let a serious crisis go to waste,'" he said.
"I find that quote a very appropriate place to start as I reflect on where The Bahamas finds itself financially today.
"The Bahamas economy has suffered a body blow since the financial crisis erupted in the developed world in 2007. While the U.S. seems to be emerging from this crisis, albeit painfully slowly, we have yet to see the Bahamian economy back to pre-crisis levels. Unemployment in The Bahamas remains stubbornly high and loan delinquencies have soared. With the economy in the doldrums, government revenue has plummeted but the expense base has not changed materially. The net effect of this development has been that the budget deficit has widened and the debt to GDP ratio is in the danger zone. The government is taking steps to address the problem of the lack of revenue, through the proposed introduction of VAT. Based on public pronouncements of the business community, the government's proposal has gone down like a lead balloon with loud voices suggesting dire events if VAT is introduced."
The economic outlook in the short and medium term:
"The short-term (one to two years) does not look particularly good," he said.
"The introduction of VAT in 2014 will likely tip the struggling Bahamian consumer over the edge and exacerbate their already difficult existence. Delinquencies are likely to worsen as living standards erode. Discretionary spending funds will reduce and related consumption will decline hurting the already struggling Bahamian private sector. The Bahamian consumer accounts for a considerable percentage of the Bahamian GDP and lower consumption will hurt Bahamian economic recovery and tax revenues. The devil is in the details and the public cannot see the execution of VAT meeting the GOB revenue expectations simply because Bahamians do not have a culture for paying taxes as is evident with the $500MM in delinquent property taxes. The informal sector and cash basis society will blossom and leach the tax revenue GOB is relying on.
"The medium term (three to five years) perspective is more positive as global economies in general, and the U.S. in particular, are showing greater robustness in their economic recovery, which should hopefully translate to more tourism traffic for The Bahamas. The U.S. is particularly important to The Bahamas as more than 90 percent of our tourist traffic and related revenues come from there and signs that U.S. consumers are more willing to spend and charge up their credit cards auger well for the Bahamian economy. Coupled with the opening of Baha Mar in late 2014, I see a resurgence in the domestic economy and employment levels in 2016."
Fiscal reform in 2014 - stuck between 'a rock and a hard place'
"It appears that the government knows all the VAT related pitfalls but it finds itself between a rock and a hard place," he said.
"It needs to plug the fiscal deficit and control the growing debt to GDP ratio. The introduction of measures to reduce the deficit cannot fail as the alternatives are much worse. Barbados has already announced a reduction in civil servant levels by 3,000 to avoid going to the IMF for a bail out and Jamaica has defaulted twice. Both face many years of painful adjustments that cannot be good for their people.
"The mandarins from the IMF have persuaded it that the same medicine of VAT that has been applied with modest success elsewhere would work here, notwithstanding the tax avoidance and downright tax evasion culture that is pervasive in The Bahamas. VAT is simply a revenue generating tool that government is presently promoting - there may be other options that may be more targeted and have a greater chance of success with lower leakages and collection costs. The government is hopefully exploring all options including a phased introduction of VAT with lower starting rates. But any form of taxation will have the same impact on lowering consumer spending.
"But reducing the deficit requires not only an increase in revenue but also a reduction in expenses - from the bloated civil service to the inefficient government corporations. No administration historically has wanted to touch these sacred cows and regrettably, the time has now come where the country cannot simply ignore the vast government bureaucracy and the amounts that are used to subsidize the corporations.
"Instead of taking the opportunity to reset the public's expectations, the government is maintaining that everything will be fine soon and unemployment is dropping and economic recovery is in sight. No serious effort is being made to sit costs or wastage. We are, yet again, letting a serious crisis go to waste."
For the past nine years, the second weekend in March has been cemented as the must attend event known as Jazz in the Gardens, and no other activity can get in the way. This year the popular weekend of music has been extended to encompass a third day with the addition of a Friday Night Opening Party -- and they're going old school with Dazz Band and the S.O.S. Band.The Dazz Band, the American funk music band that was most popular in the early 1980s for its hit songs like the Grammy Award-winning "Let It Whip", "Joystick", "Let It All Blow" and "You Are My Starship", along with the S.O.S. Band, an American R&B and electro-funk group that also gained fame in the 1980s and is best known for its songs "Take Your Time", "Just Be Good to Me", "Tell Me If You Still Care", and "The Finest", will take you back in time and warm you up for Saturday and Sunday.The funky addition to the Jazz in the Gardens weekend, the Friday night opening party, takes place at Calder Casino & Race Course located at 21001 NW 27th Ave., Miami, Florida, with the party kicking off at 9 p.m. At least 1,500 people can be accommodated at the party, for which tickets are already selling like hotcakes. Advance tickets can be purchased for $45 at jazzinthegardens.frontgatetickets.com.When the disco ball stops spinning and the party is over, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Trey Songz, Kelly Rowland, Mint Condition, Anthony Hamilton, Stanley Clarke, Rachelle Farrell and Boney James will take to the stage over the weekend at Sun Life Stadium.As has been the case for the past five years, The Guardian Group of Companies will be giving Bahamians opportunities to attend the concert, giving away four complete packages that will allow eight people to enjoy the 9th Annual Jazz in the Gardens on The Guardian Group of companies, free of charge, by entering the various promotions offered in The Nassau Guardian and on radio stations Star 106.5 FM, and Hot 91.7 FM.Two people will win complete packages for two on Star 106.5 FM inclusive of airfare on Bahamasair, accommodations at Staybridge Suites Plantation or Comfort Suites Sawgrass, car rental with Dollar/Thrifty and concert tickets for both nights. And winning is as simple as listening to Star 106.5 FM and calling in to register for the promotion when you hear a song by one of the artists on the lineup for Jazz in the Gardens being played. You can also sign up at Star's Facebook page using the sign up form that can be emailed in to Star to be registered.One complete package for two can also be won through The Nassau Guardian. It's as simple as filling in the entry form in the newspaper, clipping it out and dropping it off at the Carter Street, Oakes Field office of the newspaper. One person will win roundtrip tickets on Bahamasair for two, accommodations at Staybridge Suites Plantation or Comfort Suites Sawgrass, car rental with Dollar/Thrifty and concert tickets for both nights.Another complete package for two can also be won through Hot 91.7 with Ibiza nightclub -- roundtrip tickets on Bahamasair for two, accommodations at Staybridge Suites Plantation or Comfort Suites Sawgrass, car rental with Dollar/Thrifty and concert tickets for both nights. Sign up for a chance at winning the fabulous prize will take place every Thursday during the Hot live remote from Ibiza, and up until March 6 folks can sign up for the chance to win during the Hot live remote.All of the winners will be announced on March 7, one week before the most anticipated weekend of the month.As The Guardian Group of Companies could not give out as many prize packages as they would like and knowing that Bahamians will be traveling to South Florida en masse anyway to enjoy the weekend, an opportunity is being afforded to people who purchase Bahamasair tickets (with a special starting rate of $291.90 inclusive of taxes) for that weekend to win concert tickets. With the purchase of a Bahamasair ticket for that weekend, they will automatically be entered into a drawing for concert tickets. And they can listen in to The Guardian Group of Companies radio stations for pop-up opportunities to win concert tickets as well.Star 106.5 FM and Hot 91.7 programming director Tony Williams said with eight people being able to enjoy the Jazz in the Gardens weekend with all expenses paid on The Guardian Group of Companies that this would be the most complete packages given away in its six-year history with the Jazz in the Gardens festival.He described this year's line-up as a good mix that will cater across the generations. Williams himself is most interested in seeing what LL Cool J brings to the stage. He's also excited about the Funky Friday Night Opening Party that will add a new flavor to the event."The Funky Friday Night Opening Party is something different, especially for the old school folks who may not know too much about the new artists, and for those people who may be going over to Florida early, so they will have something to do," said Williams. Star 106.5 FM has already given away tickets to this new feature.Williams is also eager to see Jamie Foxx, Kelly Rowland and Mint Condition."Jamie Foxx can be considered old school as well as new school, and he's a comedian, so I think you're going to get a good show out of Jamie Foxx, so I'm looking forward to seeing him as well as Kelly Rowland who I've never seen before, but she's got quite a body of work including Dirty Laundry and Kisses Down Low which were very big for her, plus she had songs before that, including some gospel songs, so I think people will enjoy her. Then there's Mint Condition who I've never seen, but I know their music," said Williams.Bahamasair's senior manager for international sales, Woody Wilson said the company was pleased to partner with The Guardian Group of Companies for the sixth consecutive year to promote the 9th Annual Jazz in the Gardens."Over the years we've enjoyed this partnership and look forward to the years to come as long as there's a Jazz in the Gardens festival to go to, to ensure that Bahamians can attend and enjoy Jazz in the Gardens," said Wilson.The international sales manager said it's become so popular for Bahamians to fly into Miami and Fort Lauderdale for the Jazz in the Gardens weekend that Bahamasair has increased its seat load into the destinations to accommodate the crowd. They are looking to add an extra flight going out on the Friday and returning on the Monday.What: 9th Annual Jazz in the GardensWhen: March 14, 15 and 16Where: Sun Life Stadium, 2269 Dan Marino Blvd., Miami Gardens, FloridaPerforming artists line upSaturday, March 15 (Gates open at 3 p.m.) -- Line-up is subject to change. Times can be adjusted without notice.4 p.m. -- Local talent TBA4:35 p.m. -- Local talent TBA5 p.m. -- Boney James6:20 p.m. -- Mint Condition7:40 p.m. -- Kelly Rowland9 p.m. -- Trey Songz10:30 p.m. -- Jamie FoxxSunday, March 16 (Gates open at 3 p.m.) -- Line-up is subject to change. Times can be adjusted without notice.4 p.m. -- Local talent TBA4:35 p.m. -- Rachelle Ferrell5:55 -- Stanley Clarke7:10 p.m. -- Anthony Hamilton8:30 p.m. -- LL Cool J10 p.m. -- Maze featuring Frankie BeverlyHost: D.L. HughleyTickets: On sale at www.jazzinthegardens.com, the Sun Life Stadium Box Office, www.ticketmaster.com or call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.Opening night party:Featuring Dazz Band with S.O.S. BandWhen: Friday, March 14Time: 9 p.m.Where: Calder Casino & Race Course located at 21001 NW 27th Ave., Miami, Florida.Tickets: Advance tickets can be had for $45 and can be purchased at jazzinthegardens.frontgatetickets.com.Guardian Group of Companies special rates for the Jazz in the Guardian weekendBahamasair roundtrip tickets -- starting at $291.90, (includes of all taxes)HotelsSheraton Suites -- $149 and $159Comfort Suites Sawgrass -- $89Staybridge Suites Plantation -- $120 (studio), $140 (one bedroom king), $150 (one bedroom, two double beds), $220 (two bedroom suite).