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News Article

September 18, 2014
Company awaiting permits for North Abaco port facility

The Chinese company contracted to build a domestic and international port facility in North Abaco broke ground in June, and is still awaiting government permits prior to the start of major operations, according to the top executive in charge of the project.
The $46 million port facility is expected to be completed by summer 2015, according to Felix Q. Chang, country manager at China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Ltd., who said the company has so far had a "positive experience" in The Bahamas.
"We are still reviewing all the drawings, but temporary site offices have already been done. We are waiting for the permits now," Chang said.
Appearing as a guest on "Bahamas at Sunrise", Chang gave a brief history of the project. He is one of a number of high-powered members of the business community who will speak at the Abaco Business Outlook in North Abaco next week. The conference is part of a series of business-focused gatherings organized by The Counsellors Ltd., beginning with the Bahamas Business Outlook and continuing throughout the year with conferences on an expanding number of Family Islands.
He said in 2011, The Bahamas government entered discussions with CHEC to construct a domestic and an international port facility in North Abaco. Funding was secured in 2012, with the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China and the government of The Bahamas jointly covering the majority of the cost.
Questioned about the potential environmental impacts of the project, Chang pointed out that CHEC has done a number of projects around the world, and the expertise gained through those projects would be brought into play here.
"We have done a series of studies and modelings, in terms of environmental protection," he said. "We are going to make sure that when we are doing the construction, we will follow all the laws and regulations in The Bahamas, and respect the local community for sure."
CHEC broke ground on the facility in June, and is expected to soon begin construction work on a Little Abaco bridge which will link North Abaco and Little Abaco.
The 45.4-acre, state-of-the-art port facility is expected to generate dozens of jobs during construction and create new business opportunities post construction in the North Abaco community.

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News Article

April 23, 2012
Campaign financing: A better way

"We need real campaign finance reform to loosen the grip of special interests on politics." - Tom Daschle

Every five years around election time, incessant lip service is paid to campaign financing. It can only be lip service because after the ballots have been cast, counted and catalogued, the notion of campaign finance reform retires to hibernation - that is, until the next general election. Therefore, this week, we would like to Consider This...what practical approaches can we realistically take regarding how we finance political campaigns in The Bahamas?
Unquestionably, politics has become an extremely expensive exercise. When one considers the cost of political rallies, paraphernalia, including T-shirts and other garments now available, flags, posters, signage, printing of flyers, advertisements, including newspaper, radio and television broadcasts and commercials, the cost is staggering. Let's not forget the direct cost of personnel employed by political parties; the cost of constituency offices, sometimes four or five, particularly in the Family Islands; the cost of electricity, water, and telephones; the cost of food and beverages; of political consultants; and the printing of party platforms. When these and other costs are considered, the real cost of staging a general election could very easily cost $250,000 per constituency or nearly $10 million per party. So how are political parties expected to finance such a mammoth undertaking?

Using the public purse
It has become commonplace for the government of the day to use the power of the public purse to significantly finance its party's political campaign. We observed this practice when the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was in power; we witnessed it in the by-election in Elizabeth two years ago; and we are seeing it again in the current general election. While this has been a common practice, the Free National Movement (FNM) government seems to have taken this phenomenon to new heights.
Shortly after announcing the general election of 2012, the government launched a record contract signing marathon. The $12 million contract for the construction of a new clinic in North Abaco and a multimillion-dollar contract for a new hospital in Exuma are a few examples of this.
Last weekend, amidst great public fanfare at police headquarters, the prime minister awarded $1 million to charitable organizations. Ironically, this is the same government that - only one year earlier - reduced the government's subvention to such organizations during the annual budget debate in the House of Assembly. This is the same government that discontinued the extremely effective YEAST program that provided a positive prototype for young Bahamian men at risk and the same government that canceled the effective and internationally celebrated urban renewal program established by the PLP.
No matter which party is in power, an intelligent and discerning public should look askance at the government of the day exploiting and abusing the public purse in order to win votes after elections have been called.

Campaign contributions
In The Bahamas, political campaigns are predominantly financed by contributions from persons, companies, and organizations that believe in the democratic process and want to ensure that the message of the political party that they support is widely and successfully disseminated.
In the absence of campaign finance laws, there are no restrictions on who can contribute to a political party and how much they can donate. Accordingly, anyone -- Bahamians and foreigners - can contribute any amount to anyone at any time without any accountability whatsoever. The real question that we must address for the future health of our democracy is whether this is a desirable practice?
It has become customary for political contributions to be made in private, sometimes on the condition of confidentiality and often in secrecy with only a select few members of the party knowledgeable regarding the source of the funds.
Campaign 2012 has seen a new development in political funding. During the last few mass rallies, the prime minister has publicly appealed from the podium for campaign contributions, describing it as a further deepening of our democracy by allowing the public to become investors in his party. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it is unprecedented and uncharacteristic. We have never before seen this prime minister - or any other for that matter - beg for money from a public podium.
It therefore begs the question: why has he done so now, during what he says is his last campaign? He alluded to the answer to this question on Thursday past at a mass rally on R. M. Bailey Park when he said that he will not tolerate anyone in his Cabinet who has financially benefited from conflicts of interest.
We believe that he made this appeal for financial contributions because, while the FNM is still well-funded by those wealthy interest groups who support him in order to continue reaping his government's largess, some of his traditional sources of funding are less generous than they have been in the past. This is possibly because he has cut some of his more financially well-connected candidates for reasons already stated and reiterated again from that podium last Thursday in a purposefully vague but very revealing way.

Campaign finance reform
Clearly, as the prime minister is opening party funding up to the masses in ways never seen before, the time has come to enact campaign financing legislation. There are several things that can be done in order to impose strict controls for campaign fund-raising, primarily to level the playing field and to minimize disparate levels of funding campaigns by the various political parties. Campaign financing legislation should also establish disclosure requirements with respect to funding and spending in elections.
Such a law could introduce statutory limits on contributions by individuals, organizations and companies, which would remove the influence of big money from politics and should also prohibit foreign influences from invading the local political process.
There should also be limits on large potential donors to prevent them from gaining extraordinary political access or favorable legislation or other concessions in return for their contributions. Campaign finance laws should also provide for the capping of such funding and for the disclosure of sources of campaign contributions and expenditures. It should also limit or prohibit government contractors from making contributions with respect to such elections.
Campaign financing legislation could even provide for matching funds by the government for all the candidates in order to ensure that the playing field truly is level and to enhance clean elections.
Finally, in order to more vigilantly protect the public purse, the law should strictly prohibit a government from signing any new contracts after general or by-elections are called.

Conclusion
Campaigns will become more expensive as time progresses. As we mature politically, we should seek to ensure that political parties operate on a level playing field and remove the barriers to participation in the democratic process because of a lack of funding. If we want to encourage the best and the brightest citizens to enter into the elective political arena, we should seek to eliminate the observation of U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton that: "Elections are more often bought than won".

Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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News Article

July 07, 2014
A genuine leader

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tomorrow, His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes will demit office as the ninth governor general of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, a position that he has held since April 14, 2010. By any measure, Bahamians from all walks of life and from both sides of the political divide will attest that he is unquestionably the very best son of the soil to hold the highest office in the land since the founding of our nation in 1973. Therefore this week, we would like to Consider This... What will be Sir Arthur's legacy?
The youthful years
Arthur Alexander Foulkes was born in Matthew Town, Inagua, May 11, 1928, son of the late Dr. William A. Foulkes and Julie Foulkes, nee Maisonneuve.
He was educated at public schools in Matthew Town and in Nassau and first worked at The Nassau Guardian as a linotype operator and proof-reader. He then joined The Tribune as a linotype operator in 1948 and took up journalism under the tutelage of editor and publisher Sir Etienne Dupuch, who made him a reporter and later appointed him news editor of The Tribune.
Political career
Sir Arthur was one of the founders of the National Committee for Positive Action, a think-tank and activist group within the PLP which supported the leadership of Sir Lynden Pindling and contributed significantly to the achievement of majority rule.
He drafted the PLP's petition to the United Nations Committee of 24 (on decolonization) and was a member of the Delegation of Eight that presented the petition in 1965. Sir Arthur wrote many political documents over the years, contributed to the manifestos of both major political parties and drafted the first platform of the Free National Movement in 1971.
Sir Arthur was founding editor of Bahamian Times, the official organ of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) from 1962 to 1967. He selected as its motto a quote from American emancipation crusader Frederick Douglass: "Without struggle there is no progress". That newspaper played a pivotal role in the campaign for majority rule which was achieved in the general elections of January 10, 1967.
Noted for his stirring oratory in the 60s, Sir Arthur was elected to Parliament in 1967 and served in various political offices over the years, including minister of communications and minister of tourism in the PLP government.
Under his leadership, the Ministry of Tourism recorded impressive gains in 1969. It was also on his ministerial watch in 1968 that a Bahamas-based airline, International Air Bahama, flew to Europe for the first time and he was instrumental in enabling black Bahamian stewardesses to work on international flights not only to America but to Europe as well. As minister of communications, he presided over the complete Bahamianization of the management of BaTelCo, the national public telephone corporation.
Sir Arthur was one of the Dissident Eight who rejected the leadership of Sir Lynden in 1970 and broke away from the PLP, forming the Free PLP. In 1971, he was a founder of the Free National Movement. He was appointed to the Senate in 1972 and 1977 and reelected to the House of Assembly in 1982.
During his public career, Sir Arthur attended many international conferences and, in 1972, was one of four opposition delegates to The Bahamas Independence Constitution Conference in London. He drafted the opposition memorandum for the conference and was primarily responsible for the drafting of the preamble to the Bahamian Constitution.
In the 1970s, when opposition forces in the country seemed hopelessly splintered, Sir Arthur, together with others, initiated arduous negotiations which finally resulted in a united opposition under the leadership of Sir Kendal Isaacs in time for the 1982 elections.
Later, he was a columnist for The Guardian and The Tribune and, from 2002 to 2007, resumed his popular column, "To The Point", in The Tribune.
Sir Arthur, the diplomat
In 1992 Sir Arthur entered the diplomatic service of The Bahamas as high commissioner to the United Kingdom and ambassador to France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the European Union (resident in London).
He represented The Bahamas to the African Caribbean Pacific Group in Brussels, was permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization and also Doyen of the Caribbean diplomatic corps in the United Kingdom. He also founded Friends of The Bahamas, a London-based association.
In 1999 he was appointed the first Bahamas ambassador to the People's Republic of China and ambassador to the Republic of Cuba, both nonresident posts.
In 2001 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) by Queen Elizabeth II and on April 14, 2010 he became the nation's ninth governor general.
A profound and perpetual legacy
Sir Arthur served as an exemplary head of state. He is first and foremost a nationalist, whose credentials as such were unquestionable and unassailable. He is one of those individuals who can unquestionably be described as one of the "fathers of the nation" or "heroes of the revolution". He is a nationally unifying force and his short tenure as governor general was devoid of any hint of the profound partisan divisions that are present in so many facets of Bahamian life.
Notwithstanding his reservations regarding the timing for independence for The Bahamas, he is without question a powerful proponent for national freedom and strong supporter of state sovereignty.
Sir Arthur is the kind of unique Bahamian who has managed to stay the course and rise above the fray, keeping his ideals and beliefs constant and unwavering in spite of the storms that sometimes seethed around him. In short, he has become an example of how an active and politically passionate person can also be a force for harmony and common sense across the great political divide.
There is no doubt that he will demit office far too soon, only four short years after assuming the highest position in the land. There is also no doubt that, unlike so many others in public life, he has chosen to depart on his terms and his timetable, at the pinnacle of his public profession.
Sir Arthur's humility, his deep love of and for The Bahamas and Bahamians, his enormous depth of knowledge about the land and people of his birth, his eloquent and elegant employment of the English language and his globally-informed world view are but a few of the elements that have crafted the person whom we have come to know as our ninth governor general.
As he travels through the gates of Government House and descends Mount Fitzwilliam on Tuesday, July 8 one last time as our governor general, and is driven through the streets of New Providence on his way to a place of placid retirement from active public life, the smile that will likely grace Sir Arthur's face will be one of contentment and great satisfaction.
He will be pleased that, as he demits office, his legacy is fully and eternally ensconced and embedded in the annals of Bahamian history - a legacy that symbolizes all that is good about The Bahamas: our courage in adversity, our capability to withstand and overcome hardship, our dignity in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and our innate kindness and graciousness toward our fellow human beings, no matter their race, religion, economic status or political persuasion. History will recognize Sir Arthur Foulkes as a governor general for the ages.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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News Article

August 27, 2014
Did Andre Rollins hijack the Bahamian Parliament

There's a lot of talk lately on radio shows, in social media, in grocery stores, in line at the chicken shacks, on bank lines and in private and government offices around Nassau about what Dr. Andre Rollins did or didn't do, said or shouldn't have said, during recent debates in Parliament and in the time that preceded his election to the House of Assembly as a PLP member of Parliament.
So many people have so much to say about Rollins' handling of political/government affairs in the House and in the media.
But all this talk about "Rollins should have known all along what the PLP was about" and chosen not to be a part of it, if he was in such great opposition to the PLP's methods and (unspoken) philosophies from the beginning, a sentiment being uttered by PLPs, FNMs, and DNAs alike, is really just amounting to spitting in the wind.
First of all, if Rollins didn't know what he was really and truly getting into, which may be a lesser possibility but a possibility nonetheless, then he also would not have known that the actions of the governing party could or would aggrieve him to the extent that they have, or that he would have become so impassioned about them that he would pitch a fit (or three) in the parliamentary debates and sessions.
It's also possible that Dr. Rollins knew very well what he was getting into, but sincerely thought he could make a real difference and that the PLP, as a unified group, would have been more attendant to his concerns.
But, what if neither of those possibilities was the reality?
What if Dr. Rollins knew about and considered - when he entered into politics and when he decided to cross over to the larger PLP that was ready and willing to embrace new blood to satisfy the party's own political agenda - all the possible ramifications and obstacles that would meet him along his walk with the PLP, but still decided to join them anyway?
What if, in fact, Dr. Rollins knew exactly what he was or could be getting into and foresaw the dissension between himself and his party, but chose to move forward anyway, in order to position himself strategically to create an unprecedented level of disruption within the party?
The changing landscape
Most young people were and, some are still, being taught to get a job, fit in, demonstrate ability and work their way up, doing whatever they have or need to do, in whatever capacity, until they can do differently.
But young people, nowadays, don't sit still for too long; the average time spent on one job is about two years. In a constantly evolving world driven by constantly evolving technologies and communications, and ferocious competition, it is almost problematic for an individual to believe he or she can get comfortable in one place for a long time; tomorrow's picture could easily be very different from today's.
By the same token, employers know that they have to remain modern; their company mandates and visions have to be focused on things that younger people find imperative: making improvements in their world, and not just making money for money sake.
Employers have to embrace new or restored ideologies and make concerted and consistent efforts to evolve with the universal mentality of the people they (now) hire.
Young professionals are primarily concerned today about growing by challenging the prevailing norms, preserving sustainable environments, committing to charitable causes and changing the world. And they're actually doing it.
For the PLP or FNM, as the two primary and longstanding political parties in this country, it must be obvious now, if it wasn't already, that the same old mechanisms and the tired old political claptrap is not what young politicians or young people are interested in.
And if the time comes for them to behave differently, in opposition to the norms, they will. When they have an opportunity to change the world, or in this case the political landscape, they will change it. And they will do whatever it takes to change it. They have new ideas, sharper tools, and they have more energy. This is not to say that they don't need certain wisdoms of the people who went before them, but young people and young politicians have something unlike most who did go before them; they are willing to take incredible risks. They will take whatever chances necessary to make the grandest statement and evoke the greatest change.
No mistake?
All that said, what if Rollins knew precisely what he was up against and chose to go against it anyway?
What if Rollins saw the PLP as a point of entry, to get the proverbial elder-advised 'foot in the door', and then create the beginning of a general uprising against the establishment? What if it was his intention all along to gain that access and to play by the rules until he could change them, or at least bring about the movement needed to change them, by using himself as the guinea pig?
Many are asking why he did not resign from his post as Gaming Board chairman, as he resigned from his position as party whip. But, given all of the above, and anything you could think to add to it, really, why would he resign?
Look back at history. Look back at Bahamian sociopolitical history. Do you remember clearly who resigned and why? Maybe not so much.
Do you remember more clearly who was fired and why?
It is far more memorable to be fired in politics or by specific politicians, than to resign. If you are fired, the impact is far-reaching and long-lasting among the citizenry. The fact that you were fired from such a position as the one Dr. Rollins held, and under such conditions, resonates among the people for many years to come.
It is regarded as a greater injustice in the hearts and minds of the people. They will see the person doing the firing as the wrongdoer and the person being fired as the wronged, and they will sympathize with the latter, especially when he is standing on principle.
Will you ever forget what was done to Edmund Moxey?
Take a look at the people who are supporting Rollins in his recent acts and words of defiance; they are mostly young(er) people. Compare that to the majority who condemn him for it; they are the not-so-young. This is not to say that older people have exceeded their 'use-by' dates, but, which grouping will matter most significantly, as an electorate, in the next 15 to 20, or 40 more years?
Current and staunch party members, PLP or FNM, must not regard Rollins' or any other young political candidate's actions as random or label her or him a firebrand. There is more at play than meets the eye.
o Facebook.com/politiCole.

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News Article

August 19, 2014
Constitutional referendum: Correcting an historical error pt. 3

The best rationale why sex should be added to Article 26 of the constitution as a prohibited category of discrimination by any law, as the fourth bill provides, is offered by Justice Brennan of the United States Supreme Court in the case Frontiero vs. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973): "[Our] nation has had a long and unfortunate history of sex discrimination. Traditionally, such discrimination was rationalized by an attitude of "romantic paternalism" which, in practical effect, put women, not on a pedestal, but in a cage... It is true, of course, that the position of women in America has improved markedly in recent decades. Nevertheless, it can hardly be doubted that, in part because of the high visibility of the sex characteristic, women still face pervasive, although at times more subtle, discrimination in our educational instructions, in the job market and, perhaps most conspicuously, in the political arena. Moreover, since sex, like race and national origin, is an immutable characteristic, the imposition of special disabilities upon the members of a particular sex because of their sex would seem to violate 'the basic concept of our system that legal burdens should bear some relationship to individual responsibility'."Since sex, like race, is an immutable characteristic, Article 26 of the constitution should be amended to prohibit the making of any law that discriminates against any person either of itself or in its effect on the basis of sex. That is what the fourth bill is about. It is not about sexual preference, which is an entirely different ground, as demonstrated by the Privy Council in the case Nadine Rodriguez vs. Minister of Housing et al (2009) UKPC 51. As a matter of constitutional practice, discrimination on the basis of sex, meaning treating a woman more or less favorably than a man, is treated differently than the ground of sexual preference. In fact, bill three removes the discrimination against unwed Bahamian men who are prohibited from passing their citizenship to a child born to a foreign woman. Therefore, the issue of sexual preference, or sexual orientation, should not be imported into the fourth bill before the House of Assembly, as it is neither a ground proposed by the Constitutional Commission nor a part of the fourth bill before the Parliament. As we approach the referendum on November 6, we should learn some lessons from the relentless efforts of the United States to remake its constitution to correct omissions of the past and to reflect changing circumstances, contemporary expectations of its citizens and evolving international obligations. The constitution of the United States, adopted in 1789, is the oldest written constitution in our hemisphere. As a living document, the United States constitution is given new meaning and vitality under ever-changing conditions through Supreme Court decisions and formal amendments. It extends its protection to all persons in the territory of the United States, citizens rich and poor as well as aliens. In establishing a national government, the United States constitution sets up three branches and provides mechanisms for them to check and balance each other. It balances central federal authority with dispersed state reserved power. It protects the citizenry from the government and gives the power of judicial review to the judicial branch of government.The imperfect nature of the original United States constitution is very apparent from a brief historical review. In 1789 when the constitution was founded, African-Americans were still in slavery and, as legally defined property, were not considered as full citizens. However, there has been a continuous process of correction and remediation, through constitutional amendments, judicial decisions, legislation and executive measures to create a more perfect democracy in the United States, as the society moved from an agrarian to an industrialized nation and assumed international obligations under international humanitarian law. The first 10 amendments of the United States constitution were passed in 1791. The 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865 immediately after the Civil War, abolished slavery. The 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, gives citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States and guarantees due process and equal protection of the laws to all persons in the United States. Bahamians who have children in the United States, such as the parents of Sir Sidney Poitier, were and are the beneficiaries of this provision. The 15th Amendment, adopted in 1870, guarantees the right to vote irrespective of race, color or previous condition of servitude. Up until 1971, the United States constitution had been amended 26 times.Similarly, our sister Caribbean countries have also been trying to bring their constitutions in line with the shared expectations and aspirations of their contemporary societies. Constitutional reviews have been undertaken and amendments proposed or effected, for example, in Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago have totally replaced their independence constitutions. Two week ago, the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 to limit the prime minister to two terms, to recall parliamentary representatives outside scheduled national elections and for a run-off poll in any constituency where contestants fail to secure more than 50 percent of votes cast.After 40 years of constitutional practice in The Bahamas, it is now time that we correct the discrimination against women in our constitution and to ensure that the constitution conforms to the demands and expectations of contemporary Bahamian society and the evolving humanitarian norm of non-discrimination. Further, one way of avoiding the recurrence of such historical errors in the future, as occurred in 1972, is to adopt recommendation 28 of the CEDAW Committee which requires that, "The state party [The Bahamas] adopt temporary special measures, such as quotas... to increase the number of women in political office and public life and decision-making positions."Beyond the referendum, I recommend that we implement affirmative measures to remediate the lack of female representation in the top public offices in The Bahamas. It was the lack of consultation with women and the absence of female representation at the Constitutional Conference that allowed subject discriminatory provisions to be inserted into the constitution in 1972. Therefore, we need to ensure that more women are represented, commensurate with the Bahamian population, in the Parliament and Cabinet so that we have the benefit of the collective wisdom of all of the Bahamian people inform the making of public policy in the future.The removal of these remaining vestiges of discrimination against women, contained in our constitution, is not only the responsibility of Bahamian women. I assume that no Bahamian man would want his mother, wife, sisters or daughters to be disadvantaged in a democratic Bahamas. Therefore, all Bahamian men have a duty to safeguard the human rights of every person in The Bahamas, including the right of women to equality of treatment, by voting in favor of the four bills, as amended in the legislative process, on November 6.The template of the Bahamian suffragettes should inform us during the upcoming referendum. The powerful lesson of that template was summed up brilliantly by Janet Bostwick when she said that, "Women suffragettes showed us that, in order to bring about significant change, we must accept sometimes that the cause is bigger than the individual, than a party, than any of the things which divide and separate us and that much can be accomplished when we unite."o Alfred Sears is a noted attorney, scholar and political figure who served in several Cabinet posts between 2002 and 2007. He currently serves as the chairman of The College of The Bahamas Council.

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News Article

January 20, 2015
BTC 2015 directories celebrate inaugural Junkanoo Carnival

NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Bahamas Telecommunications Company 2015 Directories are now available at BTC locations and Post Offices nationwide. The colourful covers on both white and yellow pages for Nassau, Grand Bahama and Abaco celebrate the upcoming inaugural Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival (BJC) presented by BTC the title sponsor.
{gallery}/2015/wk-01-23-15/phonebooks{/gallery}
BTC has sponsored the BJC to the tune of $1million - $250,000 of which is for in-kind promotional services such as the directory cover and JCN promotional stories and feature information on the inside.

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News Article

July 31, 2014
Small, two-woman company making waves with ready-to-move-in furniture packages for new construction

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Mention construction and instant images of concrete blocks, cement and hard-scrapple men in hard hats come to mind.
But in The Bahamas, a softer side of construction is emerging, thanks to a two-woman company that is transforming newly-built condos and townhomes into inviting, move-in-ready homes. It's the post-construction final touch, the luxurious-looking, highly affordable fully-furnished option that is easing buyer stress and boosting developer sales.
The company is UpStage Bahamas Ltd. Launched just over a year ago, UpStage has created and provided furniture packages for more than two dozen properties. They've furnished sophisticated offices in Nassau, five high-end condominiums, including one at Ocean Club Estates, 19 mid-prized and starter home condos and a large private residence at Balmoral. This week, UpStage revealed its latest work -- two show homes at Venetian West, a 211-unit gated community complete with pool, tennis court, clubhouse and other amenities just south of the Old Fort Bay Town Centre on Windsor Field Road.
Company co-directors Ashley Brown and Brooke Phillips founded Upstage to fill a gap in the residential sales market. Both licensed BREA real estate agents, they realized that in new construction and in sales of older homes, sellers often failed to dress the property properly.
"Ashley and I would go into a house that had just been listed and there were family photos, trophies, all sorts of personal effects. We'd look at each other and think, 'Imagine if we could just get in here, move all this clutter, paint it neutral colours and show off the bones of this great place, its high ceilings or natural light or an interesting angle."

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News Article

June 02, 2014
Callenders names new Grand Bahama partner

Callenders & Co. has announced the appointment of its newest partner, civil litigator Jacqueline Banona.
"We are pleased to announce the appointment of Jackie Banona who becomes the third partner in our Freeport office," said Fred Smith, Queen's Counsel (QC) and managing partner, Grand Bahama.
"From the moment she joined Callenders, Jackie was an instant fit and as we got to know her better, her dedication, the depth of her intellect, her thoroughness and her ability to grasp the details of the most complex case impressed everyone. As a litigator, she is a tiger, a very tough opponent and in this profession, that's the highest compliment you can bestow on someone."
Banona was born in Uganda, East Africa. She obtained her Bachelor of Laws degree at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where she completed her postgraduate bar course at the Law Development Centre.
Banona was admitted to practice in the High Court of Uganda in 2005 and is certified by the Supreme Court of The Bahamas to practice in The Bahamas.
This was the second time in as many years Callenders bolstered its roster of partners. In January, 2013, Callenders announced the appointments of Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, Courtney Pearce and Simone Morgan-Gomez to its Nassau office.
Founded more than 110 years ago, Callenders has twice been recognized as the country's best corporate law firm by Corporate INTL.
In 2011, Nassau managing partner, Colin Callender, QC, a descendant of the firm's founding attorney, became the first and only attorney in The Bahamas and one of only five worldwide outside the United States to be elected a director of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Callenders maintains offices in downtown Nassau, at Lyford Cay and in Grand Bahama.

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News Article

September 06, 2011
Post-Irene politics and mindsets

Hurricane Irene laid bare homes, businesses, churches, public buildings, farms and vegetation across the archipelago.  It also laid bare certain mindsets.  Among them, rank political opportunism by the leader of the opposition and the knee jerk complaints of some whose stock-in-trade is the intellectually disingenuous.
One can almost give the former prime minister a pass as he grasps at just about any opportunistic straw to criticize the current prime minister, even when such criticism is transparently silly or even blatantly hypocritical.  In the aftermath of Irene, both were on display.  The knee jerk complainers are in a class of their own.
Most Bahamians see through Christie's laughably insincere two-step charade of criticizing others for what he typically failed to do or accomplish when in office. These failures range from issues on crime and education, to disaster preparedness and response.  His administration's failures following Hurricanes Jeanne, Frances and Wilma encapsulated its lethargic response to an array of policy matters.
 
DRAMATIC

As Christie took potshots at the Ingraham administration while simultaneously calling for national unity, and the complainers engaged in their anti-Ingraham tirade, more neutral observers rendered their independent observation of the country's response to Irene.  In an editorial titled, "Taming one of nature's most furious beasts", The Jamaica Observer editorialized:  "If Mr. Ronald Jackson, the director of Jamaica's Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), wanted a dramatic demonstration of the benefits of being prepared for a hurricane, he can safely choose the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) or The Bahamas for that matter.
"Pounded by 27 hours of flood rains and gusting 100 miles-per-hour winds from Hurricane Irene last week Tuesday and Wednesday, the multiple island nations - in particular, TCI which was the worst hit - were a textbook example of staving off the horrors of one of nature's worst beasts.
"Instead, having to confront a trail of disaster, the [Turks and Caicos] islands can take much satisfaction from the fruits of preparedness and effective teamwork which helped to mitigate the effects of the hurricane, proving that any disaster can be made into a triumph when a nation works together in that indomitable spirit of the Caribbean.
"The same could be said of another archipelago, The Bahamas, which also took a severe battering from the category three hurricane."
The editorial continued:  "Disaster preparedness personnel and businessmen who have heavy investments in the two countries said they reaped the benefits of designing buildings to code specification and to minimize the effects of flooding, while suffering minimal structural damage.
"In some cases, anything that could be moved was tied down or taken indoors.  Equipment that would be necessary for the recovery process after the storm, [was] readied and protected.  As a result, the clean-up exercise began the minute the storm allowed.
"A day after the winds and rains abated it was difficult, but for photographic evidence, to tell that a major hurricane had struck the islands.  It was testimony to the resolve of the government and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and The Bahamas, and a model for our disaster-prone Caribbean region."
 
COMMENDABLE

The editorial further noted:  "Both countries depend heavily on tourism and it was commendable to see staff from the hotels volunteering to ride out the storm with guests who could not or did not want to leave, knowing that their own homes could be flooded out or suffer structural damage.
"That is the spirit that should permeate the entire Caribbean, not only during the hurricane season which runs officially from June to November, but even when there is no disaster threatening."
 
One of the editorial's conclusions:  "Had the TCI and The Bahamas not heeded their disaster preparedness offices, they might now be on hands and knees begging for assistance.  Instead, they have set an example of how to tame one of nature's most furious beasts.
"Still, we are aware that many lives have been disrupted even if none was lost.  We are therefore pleased to hear that the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is working with Jamaica's ODPEM and other Caribbean disaster-response agencies to conduct aerial reconnaissance of damage to The Bahama islands.
"The mission will focus on the worst-hit islands, enabling participating agencies to assess damage and plan relief operations."
The preparedness and response of which the editorial spoke were not perfect.  By example, the Bahamas Information Services could have performed better in supplying a more consistent and comprehensive flow of information to the public and the media during and after Irene.
But in the main, officials met the challenge of responding to significant and diverse emergency needs and services across our far-flung archipelago as quickly as possible.  Understandably, some were frustrated by a lack of electricity and water, especially in various Family Island communities.
Likewise, officials in a number of states in the United States have been similarly challenged by a massive hurricane that affected millions from the Caribbean to New England.
These states had at their disposal the massive resources of the U.S. federal government; assistance from other states which could be transported by road; and help from as close as Quebec and as far away as British Columbia in Canada.  Yet many residents in these states are still without electricity and water.
Hurricane preparedness revolves around a complex set of issues and readiness mechanisms many of which Hubert Ingraham has addressed, though few of which his dogged detractors will admit.   He continues to advance environmental initiatives from wetland protection to land and town-planning that will mitigate the impact of hurricanes.
 
COMICAL

It was the Ingraham administration that created the National Emergency Management Agency in the first place.  And, it is building a permanent state-of-the-art facility for NEMA while continuing to improve the country's capacity for national emergencies.  Christie would be thought less comical and more credible had he done as much for emergency management as has Ingraham.
The Ingraham administration's hurricane preparedness efforts include another component of which the opposition and the inveterate complainers have criticized for diverse reasons.  That component is the ambitious and comprehensive New Providence roadwork -- much of which is nearing completion.
Perry Christie doesn't hate Hubert Ingraham; he simply wants his job.  But the Ingraham-haters do dislike the man.  Yet, both connive, often unwittingly, to deny the prime minister of achievements plain for all to see.  Christie can't give Ingraham credit because it doesn't suit his political interests.  The Ingraham haters can't because hate renders one blind and incapable of reasonableness.
The massive New Providence road corridor project that is helping to transform and modernize New Providence will place more utilities underground, better securing them from future hurricanes.  The project will also help significantly to mitigate flooding because of an extensive new drainage system.  The complainers are incapable of admitting as much.
Before Irene, Prime Minister Ingraham took to the airwaves warning of the potential impact of the hurricane.  Fortuitously, there was no loss of life due to the actions of citizens as well as public officials including the prime minister whose quick action may have helped to save lives and avoid injury.
Ingraham also quickly reported to the nation in the aftermath of Irene after initial assessments and his immediate visits to affected Family Island communities.  In his long-term efforts in disaster preparedness and the rapid response to Irene, the prime minister has demonstrated a comprehensive approach to disaster management.
In a twist on a well-known parable, had Ingraham walked on water to deliver emergency supplies in the wake of Irene, his critics, for political or other reasons, would have lambasted him for not coming by boat or helicopter; except, of course, the MP for MICAL, who would have insisted on an airplane even to communities with no airstrip.
 
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News Article

May 22, 2011
Chainmen return to work at Lands and Surveys

Six chainmen who were supposed to be transferred from the Department of Lands and Surveys to the Ministries of Works and Housing this week will remain in their positions for now, according to Bahamas Public Services Union Vice President Stephen Douglas.
The chainmen — who assist surveyors — protested outside the department’s East Bay Street offices on Tuesday, the day before they were supposed to report to their new posts.
They said they had only been given a letter a week prior indicating where they should report on May 18.
Department of Lands and Surveys Director Alexander Flowers said on Tuesday that the men were being transferred because they were not being fully util ...

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