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By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) has generated between $15 and $18 million in public relations value for this nation over the past eight years, its executive director said yesterday.
"Over eight years we have accumulated between $15 and $18 million in public relations value," Leslie Vanderpool said. "We have been covered by the likes of Variety, CNN, Entertainment Tonight, and there's actual value that Roger and Cowan and Weber Shandwick has measured [in terms of] how much public relations value we bring to the Bahamas. The film festival has contributed to the tourism product....
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Access to financing remains "a major issue" for local film makers, a Bahamian banker told Tribune Business, with the starting point still family and friends, plus international industry contacts they are able to develop.
Owen Bethel, president and chief executive of the Nassau-based Montaque Group, praised the Bahamas International Film Festival and its founder, Leslie Vanderpool, for starting the Filmmaker in Residency program and giving budding Bahamian producers access to global industry figures at the Festival's seminar series, a key focal point for developing their own projects.
"It gives the budding filmmaker, producer exposur ...
PRIME Minister Perry Christie and House Speaker Kendal Major were yesterday accused of "rank hypocrisy" for failing to insist that the remarks of Leslie Miller be expunged from the parliamentary record after the Tall Pines MP blamed a private citizen for the murder of his son...
A LINK between organised crime and webshop operations in the Bahamas became a touchy subject in the House of Assembly yesterday when Free National Movement Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner called into question an admission by Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller that he bought numbers.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press
We are at the mid-point of the first 100 days of the Perry Christie led PLP Government elected on the 7th May past. The PLP won the election assisted by a very well-funded glossy platform which permitted them to begin an early assault on the last FNM Government through print and television ads reeking with hyperbole and overstatement.
The Free National Movement (FNM) yesterday blasted Prime Minister Perry Christie for appointing a 'bloated Cabinet'.
"At a time of high unemployment and reduced government revenues, Prime Minister Christie has appointed a Cabinet of 21 ministers, four more than the last FNM Cabinet which numbered 17," the opposition party said in a statement.
It noted that he has also appointed three parliamentary secretaries as compared to the two at the time of the general election.
"As opposed to being ready on day one to commence governing, the new 'never-ready' PLP government took four full days to appoint its bloated cabinet," the FNM said.
"The new Christie Cabinet is very reminiscent of his last one," the FNM said.
It noted Allyson Maynard-Gibson is once again attorney general; Fred Mitchell returns to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; Alfred Gray returns to Agriculture and Marine Resources; Shane Gibson returns to the Ministry of Labour and National Insurance; Glenys Hanna-Martin is once again minister for transport and aviation; Melanie Griffith returns to the Ministry of Social Services and Obie Wilchcombe returns as minister of tourism.
In a particular twist, the FNM said, Prime Minister Christie re-established the Ministry for Financial Services and Investments and appointed a minister (Ryan Pinder).
"This flies in the face of the fact that all legislation responsible for the regulation of financial services in The Bahamas whether it is banks and trust companies, insurance or the Securities Commission fall within the legislative jurisdiction of the minister of finance," the party said.
It noted that a minister of state with responsibility for investments has been appointed in the Office of the Prime Minister (Khaalis Rolle).
"This signals that investments remain in the prime minister's portfolio and financial regulation in the portfolio of the minister of finance," the party added.
"The new prime minister may wish to clarify the responsibilities of the minister whom he has appointed as minister of financial services.
"Clearly the boys are back and jobs are being found for each and every one. The prime minister made certain to signal to his backbenchers that further Cabinet appointments would be made at the mid-term point presumably bringing even additional members into the Cabinet."
The FNM also said there is no clear indication of which minister will hold responsibility for oil, "and it is noted that Leslie Miller had not yet been assigned a portfolio".
Miller was minister of trade and industry in the Christie administration between 2002 and 2007.
The Cabinet Office announced yesterday that Cabinet appointments were completed. Miller has said repeatedly he would not serve in Cabinet again if offered the opportunity.
The FNM said it will in due course make a full statement on the makeup of the new government.
"In the meantime we will watch these matters closely," the party said.
Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner yesterday suggested that Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller should be arrested after he admitted to gambling last week.
"Tall Pines can buy all the numbers he wants," she said during debate on a package of anti-crime bills. "Maybe he needs to be escorted out of here and asked why is he breaking the laws of the land when in fact he stands here as a legislator. This is the duplicity that we need to look at.
"The reality is you have legislators in here saying they're making the law in here for law-abiding citizens, yet they come in here and claim they are breaking the law. There's got to be something wrong with that. There's got to be something inherently wrong with that. It is an extraordinary contradiction of a message to send to Bahamians in general."
During debate on those bills last week, Miller defended web shop owners and admitted that he plays numbers.
"I went to the barber yesterday (last Tuesday) and a [man] tried to sell me numbers," he said. "I can't even buy numbers. I spent $20, and I didn't catch anything."
Butler-Turner said yesterday she thought Miller's admission is cause for concern.
"We must be upholding the laws of the land," she said. "And if the law of the land says the numbers business is illegal...if you break the law, you are a criminal."
National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage, who stood on a point of order, said Butler-Tuner has no "moral authority" to criticize the government on web shops.
He said the adminstration she was a part of was aware of the inner workings of those businesses.
"They took on the task of determining how much these web shops make so that they could decide how much to tax them when they were legitimizing them," said Nottage, referring to the Ingraham administration.
But Butler-Turner claimed that "the licenses that were granted to these people who are running organized crime in web shops [were] not for the selling of numbers; [they were] for people to be able to go there and be able to use a computer".
Gaming Board Chairman Andre Rollins, who also rose on a point of order, also accused Butler-Turner of duplicity.
"The fact is the FNM, the prior administration, knew full well what was taking place in these web shops," he said. "They chose to stick their heads in the sand and act as if they didn't know it was taking place.
"This PLP administration, myself and others, have been advocating for us to deal with the industry and regulate it because as the minister of state for legal affairs (Damian Gomez) has acknowledged, there are trafficking concerns and there are terrorist concerns tied to the operation of these web shops in absence of a regulated industry.
"So it is irresponsible and reckless for the member for Long Island to act as though this type of conversation was not taking place around the former Cabinet table."
On January 28, a majority of people who voted in a referendum on gambling voted against the establishment of a national lottery, and the regularization and taxation of web shops.
A day later, Prime Minister Perry Christie ordered all web shop operators to shut down their gaming operations immediately or face arrest and prosecution.
The matter then went before the Supreme Court and a legal battle is underway.
Nonetheless, Butler-Turner said the law is not being upheld.
Miller, who did not defend his actions, pointed out that the former government failed to shut down any of the web shops while in office.
"They had five years to close them down," he said. "They closed none down because they wanted the people's money. That's why they didn't close them down."
He later added that web shops were around for 65 years.
"And they [are not] going anywhere," he said.
Free National Movement (FNM) national spokesperson Tommy Turnquest yesterday accused Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie and Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis of working for special interests because of the legal advice they have provided to Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC).
The issue has become a controversial one over the last week after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham called Christie a consultant for BPC and Christie later confirmed the company benefited from his legal advice.
Turnquest yesterday hit out at Christie after a Nassau Guardian story highlighted that Christie backtracked on his comments.
Christie said in a statement on Thursday night that his consultancy for Davis & Co. (the law firm of his deputy) ended prior to the controversy.
He said he has no working relationship with BPC.
Turnquest said Christie's backtracking confirms that he cannot be trusted to "do the right thing".
"The sequence of events shows a clear path of revolving doors for the PLP officials between high public office and the oil drilling interests," Turnquest said in a statement.
"The Christie government awarded five exploration licenses in 2006, which became effective in April 2007. This was done shortly before the previous elections when the PLP lost."
Turnquest said that during their time in opposition, Davis' law firm and Christie became consultants for the oil company they licensed.
"The PLP, through its candidates Perry Christie, Brave Davis, Leslie Miller and Jerome Gomez have worked for or represented the interest of the oil and gas lobby in this country," he said. "Now they want to become the next government, just in time to renew the licenses they signed in the first place."
Turnquest noted that the drilling licenses expired on April 26, 2012 and are due for renewal.
The new government coming to power on May 7 will have to make a decision on the licenses and the road ahead when it comes to oil exploration.
"Let's just say that this perfect timing seems like quite a coincidence," Turnquest said.
"...Christie should be ashamed, but his embarrassment and fear of political consequences don't change the fact that he and other senior leaders are in bed with a foreign oil company seeking new licenses and benefits from the Bahamian government."
In his statement on Thursday night, Christie said, "Well before this current controversy, which is motivated solely by Ingraham's last-minute attempts to derail his impending loss, my consulting arrangement with Davis & Co., which represented BPC among many other clients, had expired. Thus, I am not currently advising BPC in any manner."
But last week he indicated that he was currently a consultant for Davis & Co.
Christie's admission last week has been the subject of several attacks from Ingraham and the Free National Movement.
On Wednesday night, Ingraham labeled Christie an oil lobbyist and said the PLP leader's ability to lead the country is now compromised because of his relationship with BPC.
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Minister of Trade and Industry Leslie Miller said he is disappointed that a leader as forceful as the prime minister would "cave in" to the demands of petroleum retailers and increase their fuel margins.
He said once the PLP is returned to office, he will reverse the increases and make the margins lower than they were to begin with.
Mr Miller's comments came after Government increased the retail price of gas by 10 cents per gallon and the retail price of diesel by 15 cents per gallon.
The former Blue Hills MP said if he were in charge, he would never have approved increases for the retailers.