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Saturday 15th September 2012 9:00 AM
Doongalik Farmer's Market Sturday, September 15th, 2012 #18 Village Road 9am-1pm Doongalik Studios was formed in the 1970's by Jackson Burnside, architect, artist and cultural advocate and his wife, Pam. The couple have spent their lifetime together committed to promoting the country's outstanding artistic talent which they firmly believe can establish The Bahamas as an international center of creativity. Doongalik Studios Art Gallery has two locations in Nassau - in the picturesque Marina Village at Atlantis, Paradise Island (designed by Burnside), which showcases the work of over 70 local artists using all forms of media, and at #18 Village Road which is home to a large Exhibition Gallery in an historically traditional building nestled amongst a lush garden.
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) revealed three new candidates on Wednesday evening during a meeting held on the grounds of BCPOU Hall on Farrington Road.
Mario Cartwright, Wallace Rolle, and Wayde Forbes-Ferguson were revealed as the candidates for Long Island, South Beach and South Andros, respectively.
Cartwright hails from Scrub Hill, Long Island, and made his career as a chartered accountant. In 2000 he pursued several business interests in his native Long Island, where he established and owns the renowned Flying Fish Marina and a wholesale fuel distribution company.
Having grown up on several islands throughout the archipelago, including Great Inagua, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera, Cartwright is a well-rounded Bahamian and the immediate past president of the Long Island Chamber of Commerce.
Rolle served as a prosecutor before establishing his law firm, Wallace Rolle & Co., in 2000, which was later incorporated into Rolle & Rolle after his wife joined his practice.
After earning a bachelor's degree in political science at Fort Valley State University in Georgia, and a bachelor's degree in law at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Rolle received his legal education certificate from the Norman Manley Law School in Kingston, Jamaica.
He and his wife Krystal Dianne Rolle enjoy fishing, traveling and sports with their two children, Stephan and Wallis Meghan Rolle.
Forbes-Ferguson worked in the construction industry after attending St. John's College, and later joined the Royal Bahamas Police Force, where he served for approximately six years. He then earned an associate degree in electronics technology and joined the then Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation, where he worked as a technician until 1998. After leaving BTC, he launched several entrepreneurial ventures, including a commercial fishing venture, and currently owns a heavy equipment construction company and a sheep farm.
"I grew up in South Andros. I was schooled there; I left and returned, [and] now I'm investing there and working there," said Forbes-Ferguson during the meeting.
"Andros has always had the greatest of this country's natural resources and it is being overlooked. I plan on doing something about that."
During the meeting, DNA Leader Branville McCartney outlined the party's position moving into the upcoming general election.
"Since we launched the DNA seven months ago, this movement has grown significantly, [and] we have gone from a faithful few hundred supporters to thousands of people from all walks of life, all calling for change," he said.
"We have gone from 10 brave candidates to over 30 candidates announced. We have gone from being considered the unlikely third option, to being called the frontrunner... We have gone from 'dead on arrival' to a viable threat destined to make history in our country."
In October the DNA announced Nicholas Jacques, Rodney Moncur and Allworth Merlin Pickstock as the candidates for Bain and Grants Town, St. Cecilia and Golden Gates, respectively. With the slate of candidates revealed yesterday evening the DNA have named a total of 31 candidates.
As the government moves full speed ahead with its intention to implement value-added tax (VAT), a leading hotelier said he would have preferred a sales tax and is urging the government to delay the implementation date for VAT.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Atlantis President and Managing Director George Markantonis said for the Paradise Island property, implementing a sales tax would be "easier" than implementing VAT. He made this suggestion as uncertainty still looms about the latter form of taxation.
"We all understand it and the whole world has done it (sales tax). And more importantly for us, our computer systems would be able to take those changes," he said.
While the government has proposed a general VAT rate of 15 percent, the hotel sector will be subject to a lower rate of 10 percent. Markantonis has estimated that his company will have to spend at least $500,000 on technology to implement VAT.
Markantonis is not the only one suggesting that a sales tax be implemented instead of VAT.
Numerous members of the business community, such as President of the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association Fred Albury, and Super Value President Rupert Roberts, have also touted such an alternative as a simpler alternative to VAT.
Meanwhile, Pedro Delaney, a chartered accountant and chief financial officer at Societe Generale Private Banking (Bahamas) Ltd. and SG Hambros Bank and Trust (Bahamas) Ltd., recently said the government should consider other forms of taxation such as a corporate income tax, which he believes would be easier to implement.
"When you consider income taxes, there are personal income taxes as well as corporate income taxes. Corporate taxes may be an easier measure to implement if we are going to address income taxes. The government may in considering that want to consider a flat rate for corporations on their net income," he noted.
The government, however, has pointed to the more "regressive" nature of a sales tax, which does not allow for credits for tax paid on inputs, and therefore becomes "a tax on a tax". Officials have also suggested the credit mechanism under VAT would increase compliance with the tax regime.
Atlantis' top executive is urging the government to postpone the July 2014 implementation to allow for more preparation time. In the meantime, Markantonis confirmed that Atlantis plans to hire consultants to help it understand the ins and outs of VAT and the impact it could have. He maintains that his biggest concern is the possibility of The Bahamas outpricing itself as a destination.
"We're not sure how it's going to impact us spread across our campus because we have multiple business units and revenue streams. They're not all what it would be in a typical hotel. Is Marina Village, which has four of our restaurants, part of the hotel or not? How do the dolphins fall into this picture? There are a lot of factors you have to look at," he told Guardian Business.
"We're not going to eat the costs, that's for sure. So the issue is going to be if there is going to be an added cost, and if we're not going to be reimbursed for it in another manner, which is trackable, that's the key, then obviously we are going to have to pass that on to the consumer. Do we like it? Well, no. I hope it doesn't get to that because we certainly don't want to outprice our destination because we are already fairly pricey."
Officials at the Ministry of Finance estimate that VAT can generate approximately $200 million in revenue in the first year alone, which the government has suggested is key to reducing national debt levels.
A major international hotel operator has gained approval to construct phase one and two of French Leave Resort on Eleuthera.
The long-awaited nod opens the flood gates on at least $12 million worth of investment on seven-and-a-half acres of elevated land overlooking historic Governor's Harbour.
Shaner Bahamas, a company founded by Lance T. Shaner, will enter into a partnership with Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina to build and finance the resort property. Shaner Bahamas is an off-shoot of the Shaner Hotel Group, a corporation with more than 34 owned or managed properties and thousands of employees.
"Shaner Bahamas is an entity specifically created for
development in The Bahamas," said Eddie Lauth, an investor and partner in Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina and the CEO of Shaner Capital. "They are very interested in this country. We now have approval for development, so we are finalizing the contractors and getting started."
Located just off Queen's Highway, French Leave Resort could indeed mark a resurgence for the hospitality industry in central Eleuthera and serve as an important driver for the economy.
Phase one, Lauth said, includes the construction of 21 hotel cottages, a bar and grill restaurant, and a pool and pavilion clubhouse facility. He told Guardian Business the developer is also committing to phase two "straight away" by commencing underground utilities.
Phase two will see the construction of 17 more cottages, bringing the total number of accommodations to 38.
Groundbreaking should happen as early as next month.
"The marina village site will feature two restored docks and will be able to accommodate only a select few, large luxury yachts," he explained. "The authentic Bahamian hotel cottages are single and detached with covered porches, cedar roofs, block construction and each will have a battery back-up system for 100 percent clean electricity. The inspiration for us is the scale and the wonderful architecture found today at Governor's Harbor with the antique churches and homes."
The announcement has been a long time coming for developers.
Lauth said stakeholders had to "sit tight" for a few years due to a defective title issue. He hopes the first cottages can now open for the 2013 season.
Formerly the site of Club Med, the property was purchased in 2004, with further land acquired from the Frank Lloyd Trust. The developers now hold an impressive 270 acres of prime land in Eleuthera, all of which could transform in the coming years.
Lauth told Guardian Business the ultimate goal would be a resort "with 100 keys".
The 5-star, sustainable, boutique concept has been partly inspired by Orjan Lindroth, the developer behind Schooner Bay in Abaco, Lauth told Guardian Business.
Schooner is in the midst of an aggressive expansion, with an estimated $30 million being spent on infrastructure, amenities and homes this year alone.
Lauth said the 270 acres of land was purchased in Eleuthera partly because stakeholders are concerned with maintaining a consistency of vision, feel and architecture.
Phase one and two of the resort, representing $12 million in investment, will be spearheaded by three or four Bahamian contractors. Lauth said the company is in the process of signing these contracts. Construction should create dozens of jobs, not to mention the long-term employment prospects for Bahamians working on the property.
"There will initially be three or four contractors. We are blessed with high quality contractors on the island and we're very pleased with their work. Right now we're hoping to have everything wrapped up in the next 30 days and break ground after that."
This venture is the first hotel development in the Caribbean by the Shaner Hotel Group.
Hotel brands owned or managed by the company include Marriott, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza and Renaissance.
Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder is applauding Albany's decision to include a financial center as part of its $140 million expansion set to begin early next year.
He called the move by the project's developers a "successful" strategy that shows foresight, seeing the connection between its clientele and the financial services industry.
"This facility will create a platform that will attract new physical presence in The Bahamas. I think it will be a very successful model, where they may sell a condo or a home to a highly successful, high net-worth individual or someone in the financial services industry who may require a family office, investments management company or some other related financial services firm that will be located right there within Albany," he told Guardian Business yesterday.
Pinder thinks constructing a facility like this speaks to the government's plans to have the financial services and tourism sectors work closely together, creating synergies.
"We see that as a way of the future. So we are very encouraged that developers like Albany see that too," he said.
When asked by Guardian Business what type of financial institutions would be interested in operating out of the Albany Financial Center, the financial services minister said that will depend on those buying real estate within the development.
Finance is just one of four growth areas Albany's expansion will focus on. Others include: health and wellness, education and sports.
Construction of the Albany Financial Center will begin in the first quarter of 2014 along with 260,000 square feet of expansion around the marina at Albany.
Guardian Business also understands that the financial center has already attracted commitments from several major financial institutions that previously had not committed to The Bahamas.
To date, the $1.3 billion project's overall scope has included between 450 and 600 residential and resort units, an 18-hole championship golf course and clubhouse, a world-class marina for mega yachts up to 240 feet, shops and cafes, a spa, fitness center, equestrian center, tennis court, an expansive water recreational facility, a beachside social area and a dining club.
Since ground was broken on the project in 2008, it has been steadily expanding through the economic downturn. The latest phase of construction began last September, which is the development of its marina residences.
Saturday 5th January 2013 9:00 AM
Happy New Year! In addition to getting your fresh fruits and veggies, come out to Farmer's Market for some awesome Islandz products! Doongalik Farmer's Market Saturday, January 5th, 2012 #20 Village Road 9am-1pm Doongalik Studios was formed in the 1970's by Jackson Burnside, architect, artist and cultural advocate and his wife, Pam. The couple have spent their lifetime together committed to promoting the country's outstanding artistic talent which they firmly believe can establish The Bahamas as an international center of creativity. Doongalik Studios Art Gallery has two locations in Nassau - in the picturesque Marina Village at Atlantis, Paradise Island (designed by Burnside), which showcases the work of over 70 local artists using all forms of media, and at #18 Village Road which is home to a large Exhibition Gallery in an historically traditional building nestled amongst a lush garden.
Members of the Marina Operators of The Bahamas (MOB) are expressing grave concerns about the implementation of value-added tax (VAT), saying that the level of uncertainty surrounding the legislation is "already disrupting business", particularly in the area of charters.
Beside dockage fees and a myriad of other fees, marina operators currently face a four percent charge that's based on charters arranged in The Bahamas. Shortly after a presentation on VAT by John Rolle, financial secretary in the Ministry of Finance, at Green Parrot Bar & Grill on East Bay Street yesterday, MOB President Peter Maury pointed out that the government has missed out on the opportunity to collect substantial revenue from the four percent fee over the years, and if they are able to do so, the government might want to consider exempting the industry from VAT.
It's no secret that the typical spend from yacht-based visitors far exceeds that of a hotel or cruise ship guest. The current fees alone, Maury said, makes The Bahamas an "expensive" destination to come to.
"The one thing about this yacht business is that they don't have to come to The Bahamas. They can go wherever they want, whether it's further down in the Caribbean or the Florida Keys. While geography puts us in a better position than any other Caribbean country, if we continue to raise these fees, it's just going to drive business out of the country and make it more affordable for them to go further down. And that's the unfortunate part about it," he revealed yesterday.
"The fact that we don't know what the legislation is yet and what the ruling is, is hurting the marina industry. The brokers can't sell the charters because they don't know what the fee is and we can't tell him what the fee is. In essence, some of the charters are being steered out of The Bahamas because we don't have a clear position on what these taxes are going to be.
"Until, we get a definitive answer on what we are going to do here, the marina business and everything else is left in limbo."
Also on hand at Tuesday's meeting was Earl Miller, the general manager of the Super Yachts department, located in the Ministry of Tourism's Florida office, who stressed to Guardian Business that while projections right now for the industry are "really good", VAT could damage that momentum that's being built. In fact, he believes that up until its implementation, it will continue to be an issue.
As the industry continues to seek clarification on the situation, Miller said his team is focused on educating key stakeholders in an effort to avoid any major backlash.
"I think this is the time for us to come up with up a sizeable incentive to get them here because it's not about the couple of dollars that they pay in taxes, it is about what they drop in the economy.
"From where we sit on the marine side, we are just cautioning the government to examine the fact that if you add the VAT, plus the four percent that we are already collecting, plus they have to pay VAT on all of the serviceable things that they use; it's going to be detrimental to this business, especially at a time when we are putting more emphasis on this market and we already know that a lot of these boats are leaving Europe and coming this way.
"We have to tell them where we are, where we're going and how this is going to affect their bottom line, especially on the charter side. So I say once we do that, I think we stand a better chance of not losing them. Because if we lose that crowd, it takes you about three years to get the return back on the loop," Miller added.
In the meantime, Rolle pledged to work with the MOB to find ways that the government can collect revenue from this sector, particularly from the charters market.
The government plans to implement VAT on July 1, 2014 at a rate of 15 percent, with the hotel industry at a lower 10 percent rate.
Officials at the Ministry of Finance estimate that VAT can generate approximately $200 million in revenue in the first year alone, which the government has suggested is key to reducing national debt levels.
The Boston-based I-Group has already spent $43 million on the Mayaguana development, according to the amended agreement, which has been tabled in the House of Assembly.
Parliamentarians yesterday debated the amended agreement for the deal, which would cement the government's bid to reclaim nearly 6,000 acres of public land.
Referring to the original deal which provided for the transfer of nearly 10,000 acres of land to a joint venture company the Christie administration formed with the American investors, Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing said the Ingraham administration is effectively reversing the "historic wrong".
The amended agreement provides for the government to get back 5,825 of the 9,999 acres of land provided for in the 2006 agreement.
Laing pointed out that the government made a number of changes to the original Mayaguana deal.
"We clawed back that concession provision that made the I-Group a mini Freeport in which they would have had the right to license businesses and do those types of things," Laing said. "So we would have had a Mayaguana kind of port authority.
"We have removed that out of this agreement. It is now the case that not only have we gotten back for the benefit of the people of Mayaguana and the people of The Bahamas substantial acres of land, but we have also done so while we at the very same time clawed back a number of concessions which the group enjoyed under its original deal."
In addition to the investments that have already been made, the developer will also be expected to invest in or find other developers to invest in the Mayaguana Airport Project; a boutique hotel; boutique lodge resort, and a housing subdivision to include a minimum of 500 homes site lots within the development area.
The developer will also be responsible for some or all of the associated roadways, electricity, water, wastewater treatment and telephone/cable infrastructure serving the home site, the agreement states.
A marina and related projects will also be developed at Abraham's Bay.
Laing noted that once the developers cross each threshold, they have the option of acquiring additional land. The developers will get just over 2,000 acres of land to start with.
Laing said if the airport project commences within six months of the agreement, the developers could acquire 360 acres of land. If the developer commences the boutique lodge resort within three years of the project commencement date, it would have the option to acquire 500 acres of land.
He said in total the developers have the option to acquire back 2,913 acres of land in a series of nine options that are all contingent on whether the developer stays on schedule in terms of construction.
"Notwithstanding that they have the ability to acquire the same 2,913 acres of land in terms of quantity, they do not have the same ability to acquire the same 2,913 acres of land in terms of quality," Laing explained.
"There are some portions of the original land that have been taken off the table. If we allowed them to acquire all of those lands under the original agreement, essentially we would ring fence the residents of Mayaguana in to just the interior of the island."
Laing noted that the new deal also removes the condition that allowed the developers access to environmentally sensitive land.
The announcement that Resorts World Genting in partnership with RAV Bahamas, Ltd. will open a 10,000 square foot casino at the Bimini Bay Resort and Marina this December is welcome news. With unemployment hovering around 15 percent and Grand Bahama struggling with unemployment around 21 percent, this investment has near term tangible benefits.
The Bahamas needs a diverse portfolio of hotel accommodations and entertainment, a luxury boutique gaming resort certainly adds to that repertoire. We can thank Atlantis for a grand introduction to the mass tourist market but The Bahamas is much more than Paradise Island, we are a nation of 700 islands and surely the world is ready to see more.
With global press coverage, it begs the question as to who is Resorts World Genting? Resorts World Genting falls under Genting Malaysia Berhad, part of the multinational Genting Group, a consortium of companies and brands with significant market exposure in Asia only recently expanding to the Western Hemisphere.
The Bahamas is right to encourage and invite investment from the Genting Group; Resorts World Genting Resorts knows how to operate world class integrated resorts. World Genting won the World's Leading Casino Resort in 2005, 2007-2010, and Asia's Leading Casino Resort from 2005-2010.
As the prime minister noted, "Their vast customer base, marketing clout, and state-of-the-art operations will have a very positive impact on Bimini Bay Resort and the local economy, creating new construction and permanent operational jobs as well as entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians."
The Resorts World Genting brand name cannot be underestimated, the mere announcement of investment in The Bahamas made worldwide headlines thrusting The Bahamas into spotlight. This publicity attracts the attention of potential investors and developers; The Bahamas is open for business.
But there are still questions. Bimini has a population of 2,008 according to preliminary Census 2010 data released by the Department of Statistics. With an estimated 300 new jobs in the immediate future and the potential for additional 700, how will Bimini cope with the rapid increase in population?
Bimini will require substantial infrastructural improvements in the very near term to meet the expectations of the high net-worth individuals it so desperately seeks. Will Bimini's runway be expanded to accommodate larger jets? Will utilities be able to keep up with increased demand as the local and tourist population swell?
Should the casino operate with such predicted success to increase Bimini's economy by 25 percent; Bimini's infrastructure must be ready to handle the success.
And this leads to the definition of success, while predicted to be an economic success, is this a social success? We have gained the investment of an award winning integrated resort group, Genting, and yet, the very center of their investment, a luxury boutique casino touted with windows to display the tranquil beauty of The Bahamas, leaves Bahamians outside looking in? We praise the investment and invite all to enjoy the splendor of our country, but are Bahamians left out?
The 2012 Great Abaco
Family Fitness Weekend is set to take place starting Friday, March 23rd
and ending on Sunday, March 25th. The beautiful Treasure Cay Resort and
Marina will play host to the event, with athletes confirmed from
Nassau, Freeport, Abaco, and Florida. Many more are expected to
register this week as the price increases on March 12th.
first event in the series is a 1-mile open water swim. This event will
take place in the crystal clear blue waters of the Treasure Cay beach,
rated one of the Top 10 beaches in a reader poll by Caribbean Travel
& Life. This takes place on Friday afternoon at 5pm, and is
followed by an awards presentation and welcome reception at the Coco
Beach Bar with refreshments provided by Sands Beer. A pasta buffet will
follow for participants, their families, supporters, volunteers, and