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News Article
FNM National Candidates Launch Address - Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham
FNM National Candidates Launch Address - Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham


Itís nearly time! This voyage is nearly over. Soon we will bring the Bahamian Ship-of-State back to Port.

When we pull into Port here in Nassau some people will have difficulty recognizing the place as the same City from which we set sale on May 4th, 2007. When we disembark we will offer to provide a tour of New Providence for some of the returning crew who have been on this heavy tour-of-duty, working and producing and not necessarily counting many of the accomplishments along the way:

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News Article
Mitchell: U.S. may have abused power

The reported recording and storing of cell phone calls in The Bahamas by the United States appears illegal and an abuse of power, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said yesterday.
"The news that there is spying and the collecting of the audio of mobile phone calls of Bahamians by agencies of another country is clearly startling," said Mitchell at a press conference at Lynden Pindling International Airport.
He noted that the facts must be determined on the matter.
"It would also represent a great moral failing on the part of its perpetrators, in addition to illegality which challenges the founding principles of the rule of law," Mitchell said.
"It would also be an invasion of privacy of the individual, a cherished democratic value and a legal right.
"Some explanation is required formally to confirm or deny the truth and authenticity of these allegations."
Mitchell also said the government of The Bahamas summoned U.S. Charge d' Affaires John Dinkelman to a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday to demand an explanation over claims the National Security Agency (NSA) is recording and archiving every cell phone call in The Bahamas.
Mitchell said the response from the charge was consistent with what was printed in this newspaper, that the U.S. "gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations".
"That of course is not a full explanation as far as we are concerned," said Mitchell at a press conference at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA).
The allegation stems from documents allegedly leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
According to the documents, the NSA is using a surveillance system called SOMALGET to collect and store "full-take audio" of every mobile call made in The Bahamas and storing it for up to 30 days.
The documents also list Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and another country, whose name was redacted, as countries where the program exists.
The documents were leaked to U.S. website The Intercept and obtained by The Nassau Guardian.
"Following upon the release of the story (by The Intercept), the Bahamian Charge in Washington, D.C., contacted the U.S. foreign office for an explanation," Mitchell said.
"We expect that [Bahamas Ambassador to the U.S.] Dr. Eugene Newry will meet with the U.S. foreign office this afternoon."
Mitchell said Dinkelman alerted Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage about the story last week and told him (Mitchell) on Monday.
"He flagged the possibility of a story being released based on the leaks of the former U.S. government employee Edward Snowden and that they would involve The Bahamas and the use of monitoring apparatus in The Bahamas," he said.
Mitchell, who was on his way to a CARICOM meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Guyana, said he will raise the issue with other ministers and "seek their views on it and their support in the matter".
The way forward
Mitchell said the government of The Bahamas will likely look at strengthening its laws on data protection.
"I would guess that regardless of what the truth or otherwise is of this, The Bahamas would be taking a similar look at things like data protection, the security of its communications and how those communications ought to be protected in law, and certainly how the privacy of Bahamians can be protected," he said.
"Interestingly enough, in discussing the matter with the attorney general this morning, the government is still studying the Privy Council's ruling in the recent appeal, which took place on a drug matter which considered the Listening Devices Act here in The Bahamas.
"The Privy Council raised various concerns in that case, so as a result of that, the legislation itself is being reviewed in any event about how these things transpire."
In March, the Privy Council upheld the constitutionality of the Listening Devices Act, the legislation that oversees the country's wiretaps laws during the drug trial of accused drug lord Melvin Maycock Sr. and four other men.

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News Article

On Monday October 1, 2012, The first ever in the Bahamas, Religious Tourism Summit will launch ĎA New Season for Tourism.í Representatives and Citizens from every sector in Grand Bahama will be attending this historical Summit at the Canal House, Pelican Bay beginning at 9 am.

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News Article
A review of The Bahamas' participation in the IAAF World Indoor Championships

Just as German athletics historian Michael Preisinger said in 1993, for the World Indoor Championships we can say: 'The Bahamas - Small Country, Great Athletes'.
Since we first captured the bronze medal in the inaugural International Association of Athletic Federations' (IAAF) World Indoor Championships in Indianapolis in 1987, having won three gold medals, four silver and eight bronze for a total of 15 medals, we can also declare, 'The Bahamas - Small Country, Great Athletes'!
At the top of the list are gold medalists Chandra Sturrup, Dominic Demeritte and Chris Brown.
Sturrup captured the gold in the 60 meters (m) in Lisbon, Portugal in 2001 when she clocked 7.05 seconds for the win. In 2004 in Budapest, Dominic Demeritte won the 200m in 20.66 seconds to win the last 200m to be held at the championships. Six years later in Doha, Chris Brown captured the 400m in 45.96 seconds for the win. Brown has won more medals in the indoor 400m than any other athlete in history.
Winning silver medals were Pauline Davis-Thompson, Chandra Sturrup, Christine Amertil and Demetrius Pinder. Davis-Thompson captured the silver in the 200m in Barcelona in 1995 with a clocking of 22.68 seconds. Sturrup finished behind Gail Devers in Paris in 1997 in the 60m, in a clocking of 7.15 seconds. Pinder won his silver medal in the 400m in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012, clocking 45.34 seconds.
As we indicated previously, Frank Rutherford won his bronze medal in Indianapolis at the inaugural championships in 1987. He jumped 17.02m (55' 10-1/4").
The other bronze medalists were:
Pauline Davis-Thompson, 1999 - Maebashi, Japan (200m, 22.70 seconds)

Demeritte, 2003 - Birmingham, Great Britain (200m, 20.92 seconds)

Tonique Williams, 2004 - Budapest, Hungary (400m, 50.87 seconds - national record)
Christine Amertil, 2006 - Moscow, Russia (400m, 50.34 seconds - area record and national record)
Chris Brown, 2006 - Moscow, Russia (400m, 45.78 seconds - national record)
Chris Brown, 2008 - Valencia, Spain (400m, 46.26 seconds)
Chris Brown, 2012 - Istanbul, Turkey (400m, 45.90 seconds)
There were 28 finalists.
The Bahamas has had 28 finalists in these championships. In additional to the medalists they are:
Troy Kemp, 1989 - Budapest, Hungary - high jump, 13th, 2.25m (7' 4-1/2").
Troy Kemp, 1993 - Toronto, Canada - high jump, 4th, 2.34m (7' 8-1/4").
Pauline Davis-Thompson, 1991 - Seville, Spain - 60m, 5th, 7.16 seconds.
Daphne Saunders, 1995 - Barcelona, Spain - long jump, 13th, 5.65m (18' 6-1/2").
Troy McIntosh, 1999 - Maebashi, Japan - 400m, 4th, 46.05 seconds.
Savetheda Fynes, 1999 - Maebashi, Japan - 60m, 4th 7.09 seconds.
Savetheda Fynes, 2001 - Lisbon, Portugal - 60m, 4th, 7.16 seconds.
Savetheda Fynes, 2003 - Birmingham, Great Britain - 60m, did not compete.
Men's 4x400m relay, 2004 - Budapest, Hungary - (Chris Brown, Dennis Darling, Andretti Bain and Tim Munnings; Troy McIntosh - first round), 5th, 3:17.57. Note: Munnings was knocked down and got back up on final leg.
Jackie Edwards, 2006 - Moscow, Russia - long jump, 6th, 6.46m (21' 2-1/4").
Chandra Sturrup, 2010 - Doha, Qatar - 60m, 5th, 7.16 seconds.
Trevor Barry, 2012 - Istanbul, Turkey - high jump, 8th, 2.31m (7' 7").
Bianca Stuart, 2012 - Istanbul, Turkey - long jump, 8th, 4.71m (15' 5-3/4").
There was also a national record without attaining a final spot - Rodney Greene, 2010 - Doha, Qatar - 60m, 6.65 seconds.

Sopot, Poland 2014
The top performance done by a Bahamian this indoor season is arguably the 2.33m (7' 7-3/4") by Donald Thomas several weeks ago. Thomas finished sixth in the Moscow World Championships last August.
Shaunae Miller has run real well this indoor season in the 300m, an event not contested in the World Indoor Championships. The 200m, in which Miller finished fourth in Moscow last summer, isn't contested either. To our knowledge, she might decide to participate in the 400m this time around.
The men's 4x400m relay had a good run in Birmingham, setting a new Bahamian national indoor record, but we have not heard anything from Michael Mathieu or Demetrius Pinder since. Over the years, we have been jinxed in this event.
In 2003, the team was disqualified when Avard Moncur started prior to the exchange zone. The next year in Budapest there was the collision with Tim Munnings and a Russian athlete. In their last outing in Istanbul, the team did not suit up because both Demetrius Pinder and Chris Brown had advanced to the final and decided not to run in the preliminary round that morning. The Bahamas did not have sufficient additional athletes to run.
In the best of times, indoor running around curves is not easy. We hope this is the year that we finally win a medal in this event.

Amertil's area record
The area record of Christine Amertil in the 400m in Moscow in 2006 is a performance that many Bahamians take for granted. After all, she only won the bronze medal. She is, however, the only Bahamian athlete who holds an area record, out-shining the best of the speedsters from Trinidad & Tobago to Canada, with Jamaica, Cuba and the United States of America (USA) in between. She should be celebrated!
The deadline for submitting entries was 6 p.m. on Monday, so we await the decision of the federation as to which athletes are selected to the team, and who will be selected as coach of the team. Next week we will talk about our team to Poland, and those athletes around the world who we should look forward to doing well in Sopot.

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News Article
A new era of volunteerism

Last week, in response to what he described as an intolerable level of crime and "the most pressing issue in our nation", Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham addressed the country.  It may be one of the more important addresses of his political career, and not for the reason some may suspect.
Though critical for various reasons including politically, the prime minister did something even more compelling and far-sighted.  In tone and text, he demonstrated that he understood the national mood and deep worry at the level of crime and the need to address its root causes.
He addressed the soul of crime, speaking to the fears and hopes of Bahamians.
Only the most churlish and the inveterate Ingraham-haters would deny that he spoke from the heart, the latter point noted by a woman who lost a family member to murder.
Moreover, the prime minister elevated the national conversation on crime and violence from finger-pointing to shared responsibility.
And he did something even more compelling: He seized the national imagination by urging a new era of national volunteerism, inclusive of enhanced community service programs for thousands of students in the government school system.
Ingraham also called for a renewed civic compact to address the desire not only for safety and security, but more broadly for community and social peace.  His call to action was issued to parents and teachers, civil society and the business community, as well as to the nation's youth.
In the lead up and the immediate response to the half-hour address, the prime minister's critics stumbled badly, misreading the deep concern over crime as a moment for political posturing, pandering and gamesmanship.
DNA Leader Branville McCartney, in typical publicity stunt mode, showed up for a press conference with a gimmick graph in the background.  Unconvincingly, it showed the level of crime, long in the making and with multiple causes, falling precipitously under the DNA.
Also unconvincing was  McCartney's tough guy performance after the address.
He shot down the idea of a gun amnesty as if it was the only proposed measure on guns, and bemoaned that the prime minister's ideas appeared not to have any teeth.
His assertion was at stark variance with that of the Police Staff Association, which praised the address and whose members are actually on the frontline, battling crime.
One measure with additional teeth is the expansion of CCTV monitoring in New Providence, a measure advocated and applauded by the high command of the police force.
So predictable was the post-address press release issued by the PLP that it easily could have been written before the prime minister spoke.  Using the hackneyed phrase, "too little, too late", too liberally, too quickly, the Opposition misjudged the public's mood and overwhelmingly positive reaction to the speech.
In all likelihood, though few Bahamians may remember what the Leader of the Opposition said in his crime address just a few months ago, many may recall a general impression with which they were left.  It was the suspicion that they were hearing familiar promises, few of which they remember being fulfilled.
There was also the suspicion that the Leader of the Opposition was offering a jumble of slogans.  In an editorial the day after the prime minister spoke, The Nassau Guardian opined in reference to recent pronouncements by the Opposition:
"Coherent and plausible plans on crime and the economy actually do not need quirky names.  They simply need to work and have the will of a competent government behind them.
"When a party announces multiple named programs at every speaking engagement, and it does not explain how they would be paid for, who would lead them and if they have been fully planned out, that party could come across as less than serious."
Two days after the crime address, tech-revolutionary and Apple Founder, Steve Jobs died.  Jobs leapfrogged his competitors with devices and software which went beyond tinkering with existing operating systems and gadgets.
In his own way, Prime Minister Ingraham has essentially done the same by proposing significant innovations in social policy.  The Opposition proposed Urban Renewal 2.0 if returned to office.  The ambitious and impressive range of social intervention measures offered by Ingraham is more like Community and Urban Renewal 10.0.
With the prime minister superceding the Opposition's proposal by a wide magnitude, it looked foolish by calling his proposals "reasonable".  This is akin to the Sony Corporation calling the iPad a "reasonable" improvement on its Walkman introduced in 1979.  The next generation of social intervention innovations proposed by the Ingraham administration offers a variety of key features.
They include: the development of an Outward Bound-type program; a National Volunteers Register; the expansion of community service-learning in government schools; support for additional initiatives in urban areas geared towards young men; greater support for alternative sentencing programs like that offered by groups such as the Peace and Justice Institute of the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church, among others.
Ingraham was clear that it takes more than government action to address the roots of crime and anti-social behavior.  To support his administration's initiatives, he proposed the expansion of public-private partnerships and collaboration calling on faith-based groups, NGOs, corporate citizens and philanthropists to help craft, manage and fund such initiatives.
His call for a new era of volunteerism recognizes the critical need for citizen-volunteers to help to bring about social change while addressing crime and violence.  In essence, his was a message of "we the people".  One of the more novel initiatives proposed is for an Outward Bound-type program.
Outward Bound is an experiential outdoor learning program with great success in youth development, including for at-risk youth.  Its well-tested model has helped transform the lives of thousands, inclusive of practical and customized courses "developed for struggling teens [and] groups with specific health, social or educational needs".
Outward Bound or a similar program has the extraordinary potential to re-socialize and effectively intervene into the lives of young men and women, replacing destructive mindsets and behavior with healthier lifestyles and attitudes.
Its potential may extend to young people involved in gang activity, as well as residents of "the Simpson Penn and Willamae Pratt facilities with a view to improving the results being achieved in preparing these young people for reintegration into the community with skills to pursue productive lives."  It may also involve students enrolled in the Ministry of Education's SURE program.
The National Volunteer Register "will enable Bahamians to sign up to be available to volunteer their time for mentoring our young men and women; assisting in community centers with afterschool programs; outreaches to urban neighborhoods to encourage parental and child involvement in school activities; to work with existing youth organizations in their programs; and a host of social activities that can positively impact upon our society."
The revamping of community service programs in government schools with an emphasis on ethics, service learning and character development holds considerable promise.  The Prime Minister noted that implementation of a more comprehensive community service model is intended to help, "more young people develop a sense of belonging in our community, and [a] deeper sense of responsibility for its well-being, while better respecting themselves and others."
With the National Volunteers Register and a new community service-learning model, Prime Minister Ingraham has launched a new era of volunteerism redefining national service and fulfilling a dream long-held by various leaders.
Sir Lynden Pindling often spoke of a version of national service that was more paramilitary in nature and mandatory for youth between certain ages.  Mr. Ingraham's version is voluntary, more practical and extends to every age group.
It holds the promise of becoming a singular accomplishment of national development and one of Mr. Ingraham's greater achievements, as well as a milestone of progressive governance.

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News Article
Bimini dredging: Judge questions actions of senior official

A justice of the Court of Appeal said Thursday that it appears that there was a "monumental misapprehension" of the law by government officials who were involved in granting permits for dredging in Bimini. Justice Abdulai Conteh questioned whether or not there was an "abject failure" of Director of Physical Planning (DPP) Michael Major to do his duty as it relates to the controversial project.
Justice Conteh made his comments as three sides - Resorts World Bimini (RWB), the Bimini Blue Coalition (BBC) and the government - met again in court as the BBC continued seeking to have the Court of Appeal overturn the May 30 decision of the Supreme Court to discharge an injunction granted by the Privy Council in London of the Bimini dredging project being undertaken by RWB.
The hearing ultimately resulted in a 2-1 decision by the Court of Appeal - with Senior Justice Anita Allen and Justice Neville Adderley ruling in the majority, and Justice Abdulai Conteh dissenting - to uphold Supreme Court Justice Hartman Longley's decision to discharge the injunction and allow the dredging to continue.
Fred Smith, attorney for the BBC, requested and received leave to appeal the decision to the Privy Council in London, and the matter is expected to be heard as early as today. This would mark the second time the case has been heard in London.
In its May 23 ruling, the Privy Council said that Resorts World Bimini could seek to have the injunction discharged by either The Bahamas' Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal. In order to do so, RWB would have to provide evidence proving that the permit it had shown the Privy Council was a legally valid permit.
The Privy Council, in its deliberations, noted that the permit that was shown to the court had been obtained a day prior, on May 22, a week after the dredging began, and questioned whether the DPP had given proper consideration to the issue before granting it.
Presenting the BBC's case to have the order discharging the injunction overturned, attorney for the coalition, Fred Smith, Q.C., pointed to evidence that he said showed that Major had "abdicated his statutory duty", regarding the granting of the permit. Smith argued that it was, therefore, invalid.
His case hinged on the fact that, in a letter dated May 14, 2014, Major stated that his department was not responsible for issuing permits related to dredging.
In the letter provided to the court, Major said: "Please be advised that applications for dredging operations are submitted to the Department of Lands and Surveys, a body that is also responsible for issuing permits. You are advised to contact that agency for further information on the references permits and plans."

Acting director
In addition, Smith referred to a May 28 affidavit from Acting Director of Physical Planning Charles Zonicle, who said that prior to the granting of the permit on May 22 the DPP had "numerous inter-agency meetings and consultations with other governmental agencies to collectively review and properly consider the application for the dredging of the seabed to facilitate the proposed ferry terminal at North Bimini".
Zonicle said that the DPP was "involved in all of these meetings to consider approvals for the project and was aware of all the documentations and issues raised in respect of the project".
Smith suggested Zonicle's statement showed there was a "clear contradiction" between Zonicle and Major on the issue of whether Major as DPP had ever given consideration to the permit, and therefore the permit's validity was in question.
Smith later went on to point out how applications for the permits were made in December 2013 and mid-March 2014, telling the court that Major's letter on May 14 suggests Major "never applied his mind" to the question of whether these permits should be granted, as it is his duty to do.
Justice Abdulai Conteh noted that there seemed to be some "corroboration" among various pieces of evidence submitted on the part of the government and developer regarding the fact that they believed the Department of Lands and Surveys - not the Department of Physical Planning under Major - was responsible for granting the permit.
However, he questioned whether the letter written by Major suggested that there had been an "abject failure" on the part of the DPP with regard to the matter of the dredging permit and his responsibilities in this respect.

'No matter'
Rejecting Smith's argument, the attorney for the developer, John Wilson of McKinney, Bancroft and Hughes, said he felt the letter from Major should be of "no matter" to the court. He suggested it merely corroborated evidence given earlier by one of the developer's representatives, Sidney Brodie, who had said that he was directed either by the DPP or the Office of the Prime Minister to take his application to the Department of Lands and Surveys rather than the Department of Physical Planning, as required under the Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of The Bahamas Act (CPPLBA).
Later, Wilson suggested that even if the CPPLBA applied to sea dredging, there is no statutory basis in the act to have an environmental impact assessment; he added that the act does not make reference to "coral" or "sediment" - two of the types of resources that the BBC expects will be impacted by the dredging.
The attorney appearing on behalf of the government, Loren Klein, said that the government took a "very similar" position to the developer on the issue of the letter from Major.
"We say it simply confirms the position that...all of the authorities were still operating under the authority of the Crown Land regime", said Klein. The Crown Land regime would have required an approval from the Department of Lands and Surveys, rather than the Department of Physical Planning and its director, Major.
But both Smith and Justice Conteh were at odds with this position.
Smith argued: "I submit that the submission by the developer and the government that their failure to abide by the provisions of the (CPPLB) act could be excused because they were advised by the DPP or the OPM (Office of the Prime Minister) to follow a different procedure should not be accepted by the court."
Rather, Smith added, there is evidence that the DPP in doing so "completely abdicated his statutory duty" in the permitting process, bringing into question the validity of any permit granted.
Conteh said that it appeared the "whole process" leading up to the granting of the permit "seems to have been attended by a monumental misapprehension of the act (the CPPBLA)" and the duties of officials under the act.
Crown Land regime
Senior Justice Anita Allen, however, said that Major and Zonicle's evidence suggested that "everyone thought that was the process". She was referring to the appropriateness of the application for the permit being referred from the director of physical planning to the Department of Lands and Surveys to be dealt with under the "Crown Land regime", rather than the CPPLBA.
She said she felt there was "no point going back" over this issue given that "everyone was of the view that the Crown Land regime governed the process until the Privy Council gave their view".
Smith applied for a stay of the court's dismissal of the BBC's appeal against Longley's decision on the injunction. The court refused this application, meaning that its judgment will be enforced immediately, and the injunction is effectively lifted.
The Court of Appeal reserved judgment with respect to costs to be paid by the BBC.

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News Article
Developer: Tax conviction 'water under bridge'

A developer in the final stages of receiving government approval to invest in a key Exuma property yesterday stated that a previous sentencing for tax evasion in the United States has been disclosed to the government and need not stand in the way of him moving ahead with his investment in The Bahamas.
Guardian Business understands that concerns had been raised with the prime minister that John McGarvey, who has been touted as having "amazing" plans for Exuma via the redevelopment of February Point, has a prior conviction for tax evasion in the U.S. and that what his company has spelled out as its intention for the properties to investors in the project appears to differ in scope from that described in public statements to date.
Details have emerged of McGarvey's plans for the February Point property, which indicate that the Florida-based developer has committed to investors that once he acquires February Point and nearby 815 acre Flamingo Bay using funding which includes $700,000 of his own cash, he wishes to make a "front end" capital investment of only $2 million in "vertical construction funding".
Supplemented by cash from anticipated sales of land, this would be used to construct five condominiums, in addition to a sales office, a pool and restaurant, and conduct some road, entrance and marina improvements.
While not insignificant, the description of the intended investment falls short of the plans highlighted in media statements by McGarvey's attorney, Thomas Dean, of law firm Dupuch and Turnquest, who had suggested that McGarvey's plans would amount to a $40 million investment that could "revolutionize" Exuma, and would include the development of a hotel and commercial village.
Back in March, the prime minister described McGarvey's intentions for the February Point project as "amazing" and likely to lead to an "expansion of development" that would have economic spillovers for Exuma.
According to an "executive summary" of the proposed investment prepared by McGarvey Development Company, a significant portion of McGarvey's plans revolve around the "aggressive marketing" for sale land and "hotel sites" within the target properties to "qualified developers".
McGarvey identifies himself as someone who has been successful at buying "distressed" properties, "holding" them for a period of time and re-selling them for a significant profit.
On Friday, McGarvey Development Company's executive vice president of Asset Management Bill Price said funds from land sales in February Point and Flamingo Bay would be "continually reinvested" into the development.
With respect to tax fraud, a 1991 article in the Lehigh Valley Morning Call newspaper highlights the conviction of John McGarvey of Moorestown, New Jersey, who was sentenced to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine for failing to pay taxes on more than $1 million.
According to the article, McGarvey pleaded guilty on June 17, 1991, to one count of tax evasion and one of filing a false corporate return for 1985, having been charged at the age of 42 with three counts of income tax evasion and two counts of filing false corporate tax returns.
Federal prosecutors had been seeking a two year term for McGarvey, arguing that he was "dishonest in defrauding the Internal Revenue Service and he took steps to cover up his cheating by getting innocent people to lie for him."
"Unfortunately, the government must conclude that McGarvey did this out of pure greed," they stated in a memorandum.
Yesterday, Price said that while McGarvey "is not proud" of the conviction, it is something of which the government is fully aware.
"There's been a lot of water under the bridge. It occurred 30 years ago and since that time there's been nothing similar and we've been able to convince alot of people we are good people to do business with.
"John made a mistake, and John paid for his mistake, and we never hide behind that or never said he didn't make a mistake, but it was overblown relative to the context. The bottom line is disclosure and the passage of time," said Price, adding that McGarvey Development Company had been involved with "probably half a billion dollars" worth of business since that time.
With respect to access to financing for February Point, McGarvey, who has been said since the mid part of this year to be in the final stages of receiving approval from the government to acquire the property from the Hart Family, told Guardian Business on Friday that he cannot access funding from investors for the purchase of the property until he receives approvals from the government.
Stating that "money isn't an issue" for his company as it relates to the deal, and he has "nothing to hide", he revealed that government approvals are critical to the release of funds from a "stable of investors" he is said to have secured.
McGarvey told Guardian Business: "We have in place our investors, but we're waiting for the government to provide approval. The investors are willing to invest providing the representations made in the proforma are accurate. Will the government approve the marina, etc. Everyone's in a holding pattern until we have the government say 'Yes, what you've applied for we can give you'. Then we can finalize the investment from investors."
His comments came in light of information being passed on to Guardian Business with respect to a proforma issued to potential investors in relation to February Point earlier this year.
In that document, the McGarvey Development Company highlights a goal of raising $12 million, of which would include $7.2 million towards the purchase price and acquisition costs of February Point and nearby 815 acre Flamingo Bay, and $2 million and $2.8 million respectively in construction funding and working capital.
The proforma - described as an "executive summary" of the McGarvey Development Company's plans for February Point - is also said to suggest that the developer will "explore opportunities for the development or sale" of nearby Flamingo Bay, and adds that a portion of the property "will likely be donated for a community sports complex in return for governmental cooperation in the overall development plans."
McGarvey is understood to have described his business model since 2008 in the document as one which involves purchasing distressed real estate - initially in the Florida market - and later re-selling it at a significantly higher price once the market has recovered.
"Successful turnarounds include the purchase of the bankrupt Quail West Golf & Country Club in March of 2009 for $13.5 million. After a three year hold, the project was recently sold in a transaction valued at over $32 million," the summary is understood to read.
In a financial breakdown, the proforma anticipates just over $36 million in gross revenue from land sales within the targeted Great Exuma properties alone over seven years for McGarvey and his investor group, as property values gradually increase over the period by an expected 50 percent.
This revenue would be joined by a $7.3 million investment in community upgrades, and $13.3 million in eventual construction costs, over a four year period, funded in part by reinvestment of funds from property sales.
McGarvey would eventually collect a 30 percent "developer fee" of $7.8 million, while investors would take 70 percent - an $18.3 million take, with an internal rate of return (IRR) for investors of 24.9 percent.
"McGarvey has identified The Bahamas, and particularly The Exumas, as the next market likely to recover. The acquisition of assets such as February Point, at below replacement costs, put them in an excellent position to take advantage of the recovery," the proforma is said to read.
Guardian Business understands that the proforma recently began circulating in the Exuma community and has raised some concerns among residents regarding McGarvey's financial means and development plans for February Point.
Yesterday, a concerned Exumian speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that the plans described in the document fall short of the type of development that has been proposed in public statements by the prime minister or McGarvey's representatives to date which suggested McGarvey intended, among other things, to develop a hotel and commercial village in the area.
He added that the proforma suggests that selling February Point and adjacent land to McGarvey could be unwise when there are a significant number of "potential quality investors" who could possibly add greater value to the area.
"I am not sure why we are entertaining him when there are wealthy people out there. A group of Bahamians could put together what he is proposing."
Responding to the fact that the document makes no mention of any plans to construct a hotel or commercial village, as had been suggested was part of McGarvey's plans by his attorney, Price said that this discrepancy arises because it is "very difficult to project" whether the construction of the commercial village would take place as it would be demand based.
In relation to the mention of hotel development, Price clarified that McGarvey's plans are for the sale of the hotel site "to a competent developer".
"We are not hotel developers. We've learned early on that if you are not a developer, you are better off selling the site to someone who knows how to do it," he told Guardian Business.
His comments may surprise some, given that McGarvey is also said to have received final approval for a development proposal on Stocking Island, in which it was at least initially suggested that he would construct a boutique hotel.
Price said that the February Point proforma document with its plans for condos and other upgrades describes a "base" of development on top of which "future development" is contemplated. McGarvey added that the proposal submitted to the Bahamas Investment Authority for February Point is "two to three inches thick".
"Once we acquire February Point with the main group there's also downstream developments, such as the hotel and golf courses," added Price.
With respect to the commitment in the proforma to "start vertical construction on five condominium buildings", Price said that McGarvey Development envisages building 25 condominiums ultimately, but "prudence dictates" that coming out of the economic downturn the group should at first focus on building just five.
"The expectation is we'll roll from one group of five into the next group of five," he added.
'There's a rolling amount of money that is being created by the sales that are continually being reinvested until we get the vertical going. Twelve million dollars is just the front end number."
In McGarvey Development Company's proforma document, there are said to be six potential investors listed who have to date promised or committee funding towards the project including "Harrington", "Marino", "McGarvey", "Whitehead", "Toker" and "Dean". It is not clear if the Dean highlighted would be McGarvey's Bahamian attorney, Thomas Dean.
McGarvey is personally listed as having an "expected" personal investment of $700,000, and to be bringing $2 million in "expected" investment from outside investors. An adjacent column listing "actual" investment shows personal investment again listed at $700,000, and $0 investor-based financing attained.
As to whether he himself ultimately intends to keep his equity in the project to $700,000, McGarvey told this newspaper on Friday that it "depends on a lot of variables" including "where we get to with the proforma," again indicating that the question of financing has yet to be resolved.
Pressed to respond to concerns about whether he has the financial wherewithal to add value to the Exuma property, McGarvey told Guardian Business that he has a history of completing projects.
"Every project I've started, I've finished, except for one where the market crashed."
On Friday, Guardian Business was informed by a source close to the matter that McGarvey has obtained approval in principle for his February Point plans and has recently received final approval for the purchase of Stocking Island.
McGarvey began being highlighted as a potential purchaser of February Point this year after major Canadian resort company Talisker Corporation pulled out of its initial plans to acquire the property in February.
Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle did not return messages seeking comment on McGarvey's conviction or development plans up to press time.

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Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham Prime Minister Constituency Opening in Cat Island
Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham Prime Minister Constituency Opening in Cat Island

Good Evening Cat Island,
Colour Red has come to Cat Island! And we are very happy to be here, the cradle of Bahamian culture Ė rake níscrape music, Quadrille dancing, Cuomo Hill/Mt. Alvernia, and the site of slave plantations ruins -- too many to mention. And home of some of the most productive, most educated and most artistically gifted people in The Bahamas.

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Promote youth empowerment to reduce brain drain

Dear Editor, 

I am a proud graduate of St. Augustine's College, class of 2002.  After high school, I obtained a bachelor's degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University.  I then worked in New York for a few years before returning to school to get my law degree from Northwestern University in Chicago.  In January, I will move to New York to work at a large corporate law firm practicing in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and financing.  I am a young Bahamian living aboard, full of energy and optimism for our country, and I would like to believe that I can return home in a few years to a bright future, professionally, socially and personally.  However, in conversing with young Bahamian professionals, at home and abroad, many of them have a  feeling of disconnection and frustration with our economic system as it relates to career development and advancement.

Young Bahamians are frustrated because of: The failure of successive governments to diversify our economy from tourism and off-shore banking; the inability to adequately promote Bahamian ownership and expertise in our economy; the failure to sufficiently imbue our young people with the belief that they can achieve their full potential in The Bahamas; and a paucity of established mentorship programs designed to guide young Bahamians in their career advancement.  This article will examine the aforementioned factors that contribute to the brain drain in our country and offer some solutions to reduce the number of Bahamians that leave or fail to return to The Bahamas due to frustration, disappointment and hopelessness.

Graduates who obtained degrees in traditional and well-defined fields have all too often been faced with the reality that the number of suitable positions available, if any, are greatly outnumbered by the number of persons seeking a job in areas such as law, finance, business, accounting and the civil service.  Furthermore, young people with expertise in disciplines with little presence in The Bahamas are often left jobless and hopeless.  While a smaller economy such as ours may not have as diverse a complement of career paths as exists in larger economies, our governmental and private sector actors must seize the opportunity to look at feasible opportunities for us to diversify our economy using and harnessing the special talents of our nation's most valuable resource - its people.

One possible way to employ the diverse skills of young Bahamians would be to finance and encourage alternative energy programs and sustainable development related projects.  Also, established industries such as farming, fisheries and offshore financing must be bolstered.  All interested stakeholders must take a step back and develop innovative ideas to improve the international competitiveness of these industries while also increasing Bahamian ownership in these areas, especially with respect to the offshore finance industry.  Increasing the number and visibility of Bahamian owners in hotels, banks and similar businesses provides hope and inspiration for young Bahamians to believe that they too can become owners in our largest industries if they work hard and make smart business decisions.

To facilitate and develop sustained youth empowerment in this country, the government must take seriously the business of Bahamians acquiring a more significant ownership interest in the economy.   Young people have to feel that there is a realistic possibility of prosperity in The Bahamas beyond simply securing a job, especially for high-achieving young Bahamians who have access to opportunities around the world.  It is interesting that although the incumbent government in Singapore won the recent general election, it lost a number of parliamentary seats and the former foreign minister, who was highly regarded internationally, lost his seat.  One of the main grievances young Singaporeans articulated during the electoral season was the belief that expats are receiving many of the high paying jobs.  In other words, many Singaporean youths are disheartened, like many young Bahamians, because they do not believe they have a realistic chance to truly flourish in their domestic economic market.

It is not sustainable for a nation's economic development and advancement to have such a high level of disaffected youth, particularly highly educated youth, as this exacerbates the brain drain The Bahamas is currently experiencing.  Creating awareness programs designed to inform Bahamians living abroad about lucrative and challenging opportunities at home can also reduce our brain drain challenges.  There are already a number of Bahamians who previously lived abroad and have returned home to rewarding careers.  To the extent that these success stories can be promoted and disseminated locally and internationally through the Bahamian diaspora, it can go a long way in giving young Bahamians hope that they can achieve professional success beyond their wildest dreams in The Bahamas.  At the same time, public-private partnerships designed to broaden our economic expertise, facilitate entrepreneurship and attract global companies to set up shop in The Bahamas will go a long way to lure highly educated Bahamians back home.

The government along with the private sector, churches and other relevant stakeholders must address the lingering nihilism and hopelessness that afflicts many of our young people.  In my short time at home, in conversations on social media platforms and elsewhere, many young Bahamians, regardless of political affiliation, have said to me that they feel advancement in this country is gained primarily based on familial pedigree rather than competency.  Furthermore, many Bahamians feel that successive governments are selling our "birthright" to foreigners and that foreigners seem to be the only ones really reaping the financial rewards here in The Bahamas.  Whether or not these claims are well substantiated, it is clear that leaders in the public and private sectors must do a better job of inspiring young people and informing them that there is still opportunity in The Bahamas regardless of parentage.  They must convince young people that if they work hard and are fair in their dealings with co-workers and community members, they will one day enjoy the benefits of their dedication and delayed gratification.  This effort to address this pernicious and persistent nihilism among your young people must start with strong public policy geared towards facilitating strong Bahamian entrepreneurial and corporate success.

Developing a culture of mentorship will also promote youth empowerment over the long-term in The Bahamas.  Connecting young Bahamians with established business people, scholars and other accomplished individuals can help young people navigate their way up the corporate ladder in an environment that is perceived to be plagued with cronyism, nepotism, despotism and even political victimization.  All interested persons must accept that a vibrant, effective mentor relationship cannot be forced or bureaucratized.  It must be organic and genuine.  Having said that, prominent business, political and civic leaders publicly coming forward and stating their willingness to mentor young Bahamians can go a long way in helping young people feel accepted and a part of our political, social and economic landscape.  Also, young people must understand the importance of excellence and hard work.  Successful individuals often have very tight schedules.  Any time they make available for mentorship must be treasured and effectively used.  We must be respectful of their time and also offer to assist them as well because young people often have valuable insights into trends and ideas popular among their contemporaries that older Bahamians could find useful.

The "Occupy Protests" that have rocked cities from New York to Rome underscore the pain and suffering young people feel the world over.  Unfortunately, and for a variety of reasons, countless nations around the world have failed to provide their young people with affordable, practical educations and jobs that allow young people to live in a dignified manner.  Going forward, governments will have to prioritize empowering young people if they wish to maintain any semblance of peace, prosperity and normalcy in their countries.  Our Bahamian government and private sector leaders must act quickly, decisively and creatively to encourage and promote youth empowerment in our country or else we could see our own "Occupy Rawson Square" movements in the not too distant future.

A few weekends ago, I went to Arawak Cay to catch up with some old friends and to enjoy succulent Bahamians delicacies such as conch salad and guava duff.  It truly feels good to be home and I love my country, but unless our government and other social organizations take significant steps to making our country more attractive to talented, ambitious young Bahamians, I do not believe that I and other young Bahamians will be returning home to this country that I love.

- Rishard P. O. Cooper

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CEO: Port of Miami 'no threat' to Freeport post-Panama expansion

Freeport's chief executive officer has confirmed he feels "no threat" from the Port of Miami notwithstanding major infrastructural upgrades currently underway at the Florida port and direct efforts by its director to win back transshipment business that has been lost to Freeport and other competitors.
Godfrey Smith, CEO of the Freeport Container Port, said that he views it as more likely that Freeport and the Port of Miami will "compliment" each other in a post-Panama canal expansion environment, suggesting that transshipment is "Freeport's business".
He also pointed to certain legal requirements as making it easier for ships engaged in transshipment to come to Freeport rather than Miami.
Freeport has been touted as likely to get a big boost once the Panama Canal expansion is complete. The port has traditionally dominated in the region in terms of container port throughput, coming in top in the region in 2012. Once the Panama canal expansion is complete, it is at an advantage because it already provides the conditions for super-sized ships to enter and dock, and because of its significant land availability for storage.
Despite already going to the critical depth, Freeport also has its own post-Panama expansion plans, although Smith said he does not anticipate that they will be completed by 2015, when the canal project is set to wrap up.
However, laying out Miami's advantage in an interview with Guardian Business, Director of the Port of Miami Bill Johnson, said that a combination of infrastructure, service and geographic location will make the Florida port a key player once the completion of the Panama canal expansion is finalized in 2015.
While Johnson did not directly identify upgrade plans as part of a strategy to better compete with Freeport and win back transshipment business, he has previously done so. The Port of Miami lost much of its transshipment business after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when new security regulations created challenges doing business.
Johnson is reported to have written a letter to Acting Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Commissioner Thomas Winkowski in June 2013, asking the CBP to develop a pilot program, "with a transshipment inspection protocol pilot for the Port of Miami."
According to the port's letter to CBP Commission Winkowski, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, "transshipment made up over 22 percent of the cargo trade at the Port of Miami." Now, that transshipment cargo goes through Panama, Freeport, and Kingston.
The CBP is reported to have promised it is "committed and will do everything in its power to expedite transshipment".
In November 2013, a Transshipment Committee was established by the port in conjunction with the CBP to ensure "the return of transshipment to the port".
In an interview with Guardian Business, Johnson described the Port of Miami as having been "quietly, strategically" upgrading to the tune of $65 million to $100 million a year over the past eight years, with an eye to capitalizing on the surge in shipping volumes that will ensue once the Panama project concludes. The port is geographically closer to Panama, but only just.
Johnson said that the port is "very, very excited" about its project to deepen its harbor to accommodate the mega ships that will come through the Panama canal once its expansion is complete, predicting it will see the port accommodate "triple the volume" of shipments it is at present.
Meanwhile, an "on-dock" railway system is being developed that will allow cargo to be shipped by rail directly from the port to 70 percent of the U.S. population within one to four days, said Johnson - a key advantage for the port.
Noting that upgrades are "all about speed to market", Johnson said that a roughly $1 billion tunnel system is now being developed which will see the port become one of the few in the world with a direct connection under the ground to the highway system, allowing cargo to move seamlessly "without a single traffic light" and speeding up delivery. Johnson described the project as "one of the largest PPP (public-private partnership) projects in the U.S., which is opening on time and under budget" in two months' time.
"The $2 billion we've invested we consider a strategic investment to make sure the Port of Miami is fully prepared for the changing opportunities in global trade. We're (handling) right under one million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) right now, and with this infrastructure with the incorporation of RTG (rubber-tyred gantry) equipment, this will allow us to go up to $4 million TEUs (annually)," said Johnson.
After some delays due to a legal dispute, the Panama Canal Authority approved a deal last week that would ensure the completion of the expansion project by December 2015. It came after construction was halted for two weeks in February on the mega-project. The new arrangement will require the authority and the Spanish-led construction consortium leading the project to put in an extra $100 million.
Before the latest agreement, the canal's expansion project was due to be completed in June 2015, nine months behind its original schedule, with the overall cost of the project estimated at $5.2 billion.
The key impact of the widening and deepening of the canal is to slash costs for shipping, by allowing larger ships that can carry triple the amount of cargo on board.
Other ports in the region will go to the critical depth to be able to accommodate the mega ships that will traverse the Panama Canal post-expansion. But there are other reasons why they may not be competition for Freeport.
The Port of Mariel in Cuba, inaugurated in January, is deep at 18 meters and has plenty land space (as does Freeport), but the U.S. embargo will keep it out of the picture until the U.S. embargo is dropped. Ships going there cannot enter the U.S. for six months after.
Kingston, Jamaica, has plans to deepen its harbor to accommodate mega ships, but has yet to finalize its plans, suggesting it may not be ready in time for the completion of the canal.
Johnson's record at the Port of Miami points to a successful growth strategy to date.
"I've been here now for eight years and we've increased from $16 billion to $30 billion in terms of our direct and indirect economic impact on the region. We'd like to go from roughly one million TEUs annually to two million by 2020. We're looking to double cargo movements in the next five to six years. We're placed for growth, we just need to mind our Ps and Qs. It's not just about infrastructure, we're focused on customer service and care and having a competitive price point. These improvements can take us to four million TEUs annually by 2025, 2030," said Johnson.

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