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Workers at Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) received a much-needed boost just in time for Christmas, Guardian Business can confirm, picking up a bonus worth a full week of wages.
Although workers have been promised another bonus equivalent to half a week of pay in January, the rest of the annual payment remains a sharp bone of contention.
Darren Woods, the vice president of the Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union, told Guardian Business a further bonus equivalent to another week of pay is a key issue in the talks.
"They made a payment for the Christmas bonus late last week," he said. "Initially they weren't in a position to pay anything. The fact they paid something and gave a commitment to make another payment is a very good thing. But the remaining week is a problem for us."
Woods told Guardian Business that the bonus from last week depended on the seniority of the employee. For workers on the low end, he speculated it worked out to around $250, on average. On the higher end, KFC workers would received $330. On a typical year, KFC workers receive a bonus worth two-and-a-half weeks of wages.
"They would have preferred to have received as much as possible up front before Christmas," he added.
Negotiations between the two parties for a new deal first began on Dec 9, and after taking a break for the holidays, they are not expected to resume until the New Year. KFC has insisted that to stay competitive the fast-food chain must reduce wages and benefits, claiming the company is already paying far more than rival restaurants.
Woods said his side is willing to step up at a moment's notice to solve the remaining issues.
"Whenever and wherever, we are always committed. We are cognizant not to do it at the detriment of the business. We want to form a proper alliance and partnership so both sides are happy, if it's possible."
Payment of the remaining week of bonuses will no doubt be on the agenda when the sides meet again in January, along with a slew of other issues sure to impact a large number of Bahamian employees. On Nov 22, KFC sent a letter to the union indicating it would not be in a position to pay some benefits. Representatives of the workers felt the notice came too late.
Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labor, has been involved in the negotiations as a mediator and insisted that progress is being made. The labor agreement between the two parties expired on September 24 of this year.
The $25 million Heritage Village has attracted at least one key investor, Guardian Business can confirm, with more support "on the horizon" for the West Hill Street project.
Graycliff executives expect to begin construction by the end of this year.
"There are a couple of other investors thinking about it. Now that we have at least one investor on board, it is imminent," said Paolo Garzaroli, the president of Graycliff.
"It is very close on the horizon. I can see it starting before the end of this year."
Heritage Village, including a market, restaurants and attractions, is being billed as "the vision of what historic Nassau should be".
The development includes an entire stretch of West Hill Street. Whereas Heritage Village was originally divided into two phases, the decision was made by Graycliff to accelerate the plans to draw the crowds needed to give the project the right forward momentum.
Garzaroli purchased the buildings on the north side of the street four years ago in anticipation of closing down traffic in the area and creating a destination for tourists and locals.
The opening of an interactive chocolate factory, now slated for the summer, is being seen as an essential step to establishing that first attraction to get tourists excited about the area.
"Nobody is going to come here just for shopping. The chocolate factory will already start bringing people to the property. When this happens it will be a major add on. There are a lot of elements to Heritage Village that are very cultural once it is a village environment."
An events calendar will be created with at least two or three "happenings" to create structure and help drive tourism and cruise traffic.
Garzaroli told Guardian Business Heritage Village should benefit from being a "controlled environment" for families and tour groups. He said the development will "reinvigorate" the whole area, and with the recent decision by the Bacardi family to transport the Buena Vista restaurant into a rum distillery, a variety of "satellite" businesses are entirely possible.
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas and a new studio opening by Antonius Roberts also lend the area a cultural and historic feel.
Heritage Village will include the chocolate factory, a coffee factory and a Bahamian marketplace.
Graycliff Hotel should remain the centerpiece of the development. An additional 50 to 75 rooms are planned once the development is up and running.
Last year 6.15 million visitors came to The Bahamas. The majority of these people - 4.8 million - came via cruise ships. The cruise ship business is doing well in our country, and more and more visitors are coming to the Port of Nassau. In 2012, 2.2 million people came on ships to our capital. Last year, that number grew to 2.5 million.
The problem with downtown is it is not a vibrant city center. It has lots of jewelry shops and a straw market, and that's about it. There has been a public-private partnership for years to revive Bay Street. The revival, however, has been slow.
With the removal of the container port from downtown during the last Free National Movement (FNM) term, hope again sprung for widespread residential construction on the part of Bay Street east of East Street; the thought being that if more people lived downtown, the necessary businesses to serve these people would emerge, adding life to our city center. Thus far, though, nothing has happened.
On October 24, there was a game changer. China Construction America (CCA) announced it had purchased the British Colonial Hilton property and land to its west in the heart of Downtown Nassau. CCA is a subsidiary of the largest construction company in the world, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).
CCA will develop the vacant property to create a luxury hotel and condominium unit. The hotel will also include a multi-story garage with rooftop garden and banquet rooms, a high-end retail shopping center, restaurants, gym, marina, movie theater and boardwalk.
The investment is expected to create 250 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs for Bahamians. An additional 500 jobs in the amenities and commercial components will be created, according to the prime minister. This project is expected to start next year and should run through 2016.
The government is giddy over this Chinese investment. Prime Minister Perry Christie and members of his Cabinet attended the announcement event at the Hilton. Christie also spoke. He said the Chinese agreed to join in a partnership with the government and other stakeholders along Bay Street to implement a plan for its redevelopment, extending from Arawak Cay to Potter's Cay.
"Some of these stakeholders with whom I will meet in the next fortnight are ready to move ahead with their redevelopment plans," Christie said.
We hope Christie and his government give the Bahamian landowners the reasonable permissions and arrangements they need to invest downtown, just as the Chinese received the answers they needed to proceed.
Last month, Larry Roberts, a veteran realtor, and Brent Symonette, the former deputy prime minister and a downtown landowner, expressed their frustrations in The Tribune about the government's treatment of local investors downtown. Roberts was upset with the 10-month wait over whether or not the height restrictions will be lifted from four stories to allow medium-rise buildings.
"I've heard unofficially that they're (the government) likely to approve six to eight stories, but our proposal put in for 13 stories on one of the towers. You can't put a condo or hotel development in there without going up," he said.
Symonette said he was still waiting for answers to issues that he first sought "sitting before Sir Lynden 30 years ago". These related to the redevelopment of Nassau's harbor waterfront and who would own reclaimed land, according to the interview in that newspaper.
For local investment to pour into the downtown redevelopment, Christie should seek to clear the table of issues between the government and the Bahamian landowners who are sitting on their money for a variety of reasons. As a country, we do not capitalize on getting those millions upon millions of people who come to Nassau via ship each year to spend their money with us because our downtown is not that appealing.
If these wealthy individuals and families can get satisfactory answers from the government in a timely manner, Christie may be surprised by how much money is invested downtown by Bahamians, complementing what was announced by the Chinese.
Downtown seems close to the redevelopment successive administrations have worked toward. Let's not forget the Bahamian investors in this process. They should not have to complain in the newspaper in order to get answers from the government.
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - With everyone beginning to cement their holiday plans, the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is hoping that Festival Noel is on the holiday calendar of everyone that will be in Grand Bahama this festive season.
The planning of this year's festival, which celebrates 20 years of success, is underway with the highlights of the festival - the food and the music - confirmed for December 5.
"After last year's exciting event, we are thrilled to see most of our restaurants returning," said Sarah Kirkby, Festival Noel Committee member. "Agave and Red Beard's both secured their spots for this year and we are delighted that 'Dive-In Restaurant and Bar' will join us for the first time."
Thanks to Bahamas
Wholesale Agency, each restaurant is given product to help to assist them with feeding the large numbers of guests that pour into the Rand Nature Centre for the BNT's only annual fundraiser in Freeport. "We are also confirming one last restaurant and it will be their debut with us as well," said Kirkby. "These restaurants will compete for the coveted Chef Noel 2014 title - voted on by our guests."
Rounding out the food on offer will be the Grand Bahama Shipyard apprentices and bosses, roasting the annual pig during the usually chilly evening. According to organizers, the shipyard has been a great supporter of the trust in Grand Bahama and this will be its second year cooking, but its third year giving financial support to the event.
In addition to great food, Festival Noel always treats guests to great music. Joining the event this year will be "The First Taste Band" led by Nat Cambridge. This innovative band combines the most talented young singers from Grand Bahama and both new and veteran musicians.
Back again to kick off the holiday season is the band "Two Left Feet", which thrilled the attendees last year and had guests dancing in the stage area. "Two Left Feet" is a five-person band comprised of Holiday Soul, Drew Moree, Ramon Webb, Rolland Webb and Shawn Swain. The band was formed in 2011 and has played at many charity events throughout Grand Bahama.
"Last year's bands brought the house down," said Karin Sanchez, BNT council member and Festival Noel committee member. "We loved the feedback about the night and knew that the live entertainment really made the evening magical. We hope to evoke the same fun this year and sell out on our 20th year of Festival Noel."
Tickets go on sale this week at Bristol Wines and Spirits, the Rand Nature Centre, Art of Giving and Barefoot Marketing. BNT members will need to purchase tickets at the Rand Nature Centre to receive their early purchase discount. For more information, interested persons can visit the BNT's Facebook page, the Festival Noel 2014 event page or call 242-352-5438.
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - In
May 2010, the proprietors of Island Java located in Port Lucaya, began
operations of a new restaurant in the Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand
Bahama Island. The restaurant is known as Mamadoo's Restaurant, or
Mamadoo's where local cuisine meets Bahamian creativity.
The Restaurant features a signature line of innovative Bahamian
inspired seafood and barbeque dishes, with gourmet pizzas/flat
bread along with fruit infused vodka like sappa dilly, love vine, guava,
mango and tamarind...
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - In
May 2010, the proprietors of Island Java located in Port Lucaya, began
operations of a new restaurant in the Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand
Bahama Island. The restaurant is known as Mamadoo's Restaurant, or
Mamadoo's where local cuisine meets Bahamian creativity.
The Restaurant features a signature line of innovative Bahamian
inspired seafood and barbeque dishes, with gourmet pizzas/flat
bread along with fruit infused vodka like sappa dilly, love vine, guava,
mango and tamarind...
The most moving part of CIBC FirstCaribbean's third annual Walk for the Cure support initiative was the release of balloons that brought participants to their feet in a moment of silence and contemplation at the Goodman's Bay Corporate Centre. They also heard from Jason Knowles who spoke to walkers about his daughter, Zion's, fight with cancer.
CIBC Managing Director Marie Rodland-Allen said she was proud to support the initiatives of local charities.
"For us raising funds is not just a community initiative; it is an imperative representing a fierce commitment that spans across our entire business," said Allen. "This is the third year for the hosting of this event and we are pleased to have more than quadrupled our fundraising numbers in 2014 to over $170,000 across the region," she said.
Allen said the Bahamian bank had collectively raised $31,454 in both funds and corporate sponsorship.
"To our corporate sponsors, we express sincere thanks for joining us in our efforts to build awareness of cancer which ultimately affects all of us," said Allen. "We are therefore humbled to have played our part in ensuring that persons battling this disease receive the necessary support to help them in their valiant fight."
Platinum sponsor, Sandals Bahamas Resort, was an early responder to CIBC FirstCaribbean's call for corporate sponsors; Sandals participated with 56 staff. General Manager Patrick Drake said partnering with Walk for the Cure was an easy decision and was in line with the resort's own cancer awareness month activities.
"Sandals, through our foundation, has always been looking to make a difference," said Drake. "We've worked with the St. Jude Foundation in the past and we currently have the staff in pink every Friday to promote awareness. If each one can help one that is what it is all about."
Walk for the Cure is a regional event with local iterations in each of CIBC FirstCaribbean's 17 locations throughout the Caribbean. The funds raised from the New Providence walk that had 348 participants will be presented to Sister to Sister Breast Cancer Support Group, The Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative Foundation and cancer societies in Abaco, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence.
Other event sponsors included Restaurants Bahamas Ltd. (KFC), Baha Mar, Atlantis, Colina, MPLaw Chambers, John Bull. Elite Security Agency, Family Medicine Center, Valentine's Residences Resort and Marina, Gippy's Printing and TriPoint Communications.
Name: Ron Johnson
Position: Culinary artist, Savory Art Culinary & Consultation Service
Guardian Business: Can you briefly describe your experience in the tourism sector and what your role is today?
Ron: I've been a part of the hospitality industry since the age of 16. I was an apprentice chef at the Atlantis Resort & Casino and eventually left my post for educational pursuits. However, during my tenure at the property, I've always felt a strong sense of pride and responsibility ensuring guest satisfaction, simultaneously pleasing my superiors. Whether local or international cuisine was requested, working independently or with a team, contentment was the primary goal. It should be noted that in most areas of people activity, food is involved either in overt or subtle ways.
After attaining my formal educational goals, I've currently been active as a personal/private chef for celebrities, affluent individuals and occasionally working aboard yachts (seven in total thus far), cruising to the Exuma Cays and sometimes Harbour Island, showcasing elements of island flare and other cuisines to the best of my ability. At 31, I would see myself as a culinary ambassador of sorts, particularly to those unfamiliar with tropical cuisine.
GB: Why did you choose to work in tourism as a career?
Ron: At first, the career chose me, along with my mother's stern guidance and foresight. After graduation from high school, I had no idea of what path I would take. I felt idle, without purpose and eager to make a quick buck. I enrolled at The Bahamas Hotel Training College (now called School of Hospitality Training Studies) and found myself performing fairly well, particularly out of fear and love. The fears of letting anybody think I was inadequate were intertwined with my affinity for the profession.
I eventually simmered down and found it was something that I could handle fairly well. It allowed me to be creative with my hands, only limited to what my mind could conceive. A friend told me that certain African tribes believed that your spirit/vibe was transferred into your food creations. I would hope people get an overwhelming sense of love and commitment when they taste what I create.
GB: What has been your most memorable moment?
Ron: Most experiences I've had thus far have their own merit in my life. One in particular, as Montell Williams personal chef aboard a three-week yacht trip throughout the Exuma Cays, still permeates in my memory. Although I've had the pleasure of cooking for him a few times prior to the most recent trip, we had a chance to really have in depth discussions about my future in general and I got to interact on a higher level with his family and staff; they were truly appreciative of what I fed them and the level of professionalism I maintained. Beware of getting too 'familiar' with a guest or client by the way.
Notwithstanding, they were appreciative to the point that they questioned and hesitated dining out on other yachts they got invited on or local restaurants because the precedent I set made them compare my performance; they said it was better than others. The reassuring moment came when he complimented my mother about my professionalism and gave me a hefty 'thank you' gift that made me smile from ear to ear; he personally gave me his contact information as well.
GB: Has the industry changed since you started your career? How?
Ron: Where to begin? I'm a bit at a disadvantage properly responding to this, as my personalized service isolates me to a degree. However, I converse with colleagues and make observations as well. On a side note, the common misperception is that when one sees a chef jacket of sorts, they automatically assume you are employed at a hotel. There are other atypical, unconventional places chefs work at such as stand-alone restaurants and chocolate factories, as well as in positions as personal chefs, food and beverage directors and managers of franchises and supermarkets. The industry has changed in other ways as well to my knowledge. As we are in the Information Age, access to revered techniques, recipes and ideas are easily accessible at the speed of touch and type. I'm also noticing a stronger push for utilizing native grown produce.
GB: What should The Bahamas focus on to stay competitive?
Ron: This is a hard question to answer in that a definite response does not justly address a myriad of issues one may perceive. However, I can speak to factors such as nutrition, redefining and elevating our cuisine and adapting more European culinary disciplines in our forte. Generally speaking, our food is truly tasty and satiating. Tourists from across the globe make an effort to try chowders, stews and souses, fritters, peas n' rice, Bahama Mamas and other local gastronomy. Adversely, our diet impairs our health. Finding creative ways to preserve or create new flavors with an emphasis on wellbeing for the health conscious or apprehensive tourist (or native) is barely exploited.
Lastly, for those with a high appreciation of fine dining, we can improve on presentation and modern techniques; the taste is already there.. I'd like to see a Bahamian restaurant achieve a Michelin Star or three, fully exploiting local produce. That would definitely garner attention to our country and perhaps promote more food-based tourism to a different audience.
Baha Mar, the $3.5 billion integrated gaming resort opening in the spring of 2015, is introducing the first four signature restaurants of its highly-anticipated culinary experiences. The resort's food and beverage selections complement an elite collection of hotel brands - The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Grand Hyatt and SLS LUX - as well as a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and ESPA spa, among other remarkable experiences.
Deuce, Katsuya, Brasserie des Arts and Shuang Ba are part of the best in global cuisine curated through the 40 restaurants, bars and clubs at Baha Mar. They are the signature, bespoke experiences located at the heart of the resort, in and around the 100,000-square-foot Las Vegas-style Baha Mar Casino. Featuring 30-foot floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the clearest waters in the world, The Baha Mar Casino revolutionizes traditional casino design, and provides guests of these signature restaurants the choice of being steps away from the fast-paced energy of the casino floor or retreating to quiet tables overlooking the breathtaking turquoise waters of The Bahamas.
"The selection of these restaurants as our signature offerings is very simple; they are my favorite from around the world. Baha Mar is about an authentic experience, and our restaurants are no exception. Our guests can select from several options for dining from high-end to more casual fare," said Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar's chairman and CEO. "Deuce, Katsuya, Brasserie des Arts and Shuang Ba will be centered around the most discerning guests' needs. Whether delivering to players right at the casino high limit rooms, or offering private dining rooms within the restaurants themselves, our mission is to ensure superior dining, world-class service and authentic Bahamian charm."
Deuce takes its name for being only the second location of Bone's, the award-winning Atlanta steakhouse that has been providing the finest steaks and seafood since 1979. Long recognized as the best steakhouse in Atlanta, Bone's is also ranked by Zagat Survey as highest in food and service of any steakhouse in America. In keeping with Baha Mar's commitment to an elevated level of dining, as well as attentive, intuitive, world-class service, Deuce is a perfect choice.
Deuce consists of more than 350 seats and will be the largest restaurant at Baha Mar. In addition to private dining rooms, Deuce offers a superb dining experience in its beautifully-crafted interior dining area, mezzanine and patio. The restaurant will feature interior designs by the celebrated Johnson Studio, an Atlanta-based architecture and design firm noted for creating extraordinary spaces that connect food to one-of-a-kind experiences.
Katsuya is an internationally renowned contemporary Asian restaurant that has been hailed for its innovative interpretations of classic Japanese cuisine and inventive cocktails. Katsuya has garnered a loyal following for its culinary offerings as well as its distinct, sleek architectural designs by French design icon Philippe Stark. Widely known as a favorite of locals and celebrities alike in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, South Beach and Dubai, the 250-seat restaurant at Baha Mar will be home to Katsuya's eighth location. This exciting restaurant, a signature dining experience at SLS hotels, is expected to attract celebrities and critics alike in search of the culinary artistry of Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi.
Baha Mar will be home to the fourth location of Brasserie des Arts, the chic restaurant and lounge which is also found in Sa?o Paulo, Brazil and two locations in France - Megeve and Saint Tropez, where it was voted one of the best places to eat by Elle magazine. The 200-seat establishment will offer an authentic taste of fine French cuisine created by classically trained French chefs. Brasserie Des Arts will include indoor and outdoor seating extending to an elegant terrace overlooking the white-sand beach and a DJ for late night entertainment.
Shuang Ba takes guests on a journey of classic and modern Chinese cuisine in an elegant setting. Representing the figure 88, which signifies "double fortune" in Chinese culture, Shuang Ba is designed to ensure good luck extends from this 88-seat restaurant to the casino floor. With sophisticated private dining salons draped in shades of rich woods, gold and jade, guests will be provided with exclusive experiences that will cater to every need prepared by our culinary team directly from China. The central dining salon features a grand liquor case in the shape of a moon gate, surrounded by warm wood elements and pops of red. Large circular dining tables give diners the view of a marvelous 30,000-pound hand-carved Chinese stone column, and traditional screens and artifacts sourced directly from China complete the exquisite setting.
As we observed in this column earlier this month, summer marks the travel period, with many Bahamians visiting near and far-flung venues, although recently more Bahamians are traveling to the Family Islands. In the first two installments of this series on the islands of The Bahamas, we featured the islands of Andros and Abaco. This week, we would like to continue to Consider This... what is the lure for Bahamians to explore our Family Islands?
Geography and demographics
The Exuma islands are a 150-mile-long chain with over 365 islands and cays scattered in a long line extending north toward New Providence from Great Exuma. The Exuma Cays, with approximately 100 square miles of land and, according to the 2010 census, a population of 7,314, are some of the most exotic of the Bahamian Family Islands, a collection of tiny jewels set in the aquamarine and sapphire of the most beautiful water imaginable.
The capital and largest town, George Town, located on Great Exuma, was founded in 1793. Great Exuma, which is 37 miles in length, is joined to Little Exuma by a small bridge, and has an area of 61 square miles while Little Exuma has an area of 11 square miles.
The area is so unique and its reefs and island environments so pristine that The Bahamas government set aside a 176-square-mile section as the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the world's first and most successfully preserved marine park.
Exuma was settled around 1783 by American Loyalists following the Revolutionary War. They brought a cotton plantation economy to the islands and named George Town in honor of King George III, to whom they remained loyal.
Lucayan natives made Great and Little Exuma their historic home until they were taken away as slaves in the 16th century, leaving the islands uninhabited until the 18th century. In the intervening period, Exuma provided many hideouts for pirates. Elizabeth Harbour was a favorite lair of Captain Kidd and the Exuma Cays were a favorite hangout for Captain Norman, hence Norman's Cay.
John Rolle, the first Baron Rolle, a major figure in the islands' history, was an absentee land-owner. At his death in 1842, he left his significant Exuma land-holdings for the exclusive use of his slaves. As a result, two settlements on Great Exuma were named after him, Rolleville and Rolle Town.
Exuma is also well-known for the slave revolt led by Pompey which started in early 1830 when, with only three days' notice, a group of 77 of Lord Rolle's slaves were told that they would be sent to Cat Island. With Pompey leading them, many of the slaves involved hid in the bush for five weeks until exhausting their provisions. At that point, 44 of them, representing nine families and three single slaves, stole Lord Rolle's salt boat and sailed to Nassau in an effort to personally put their case to the Governor, Sir James Carmichael Smyth.
Sadly, the slaves were taken into custody and thrown into the workhouse before seeing the governor. The adult slaves were tried immediately as runaways and most of them, including five women - two of whom were nursing babies - were sentenced to be flogged.
When the governor, known for his sympathy towards slaves, found out, he was furious, immediately firing the police magistrate and the two justices of the peace involved in the case. He also ordered Pompey and his group of rebels to be returned to Exuma.
Pompey's rebellion created the precedent that Bahamian slaves could not be moved without their consent, a major achievement in beginning to establish that slaves should be regarded as people who had some civil rights.
Exuma, with a wide variety of resorts and hotels that range from five-star resorts such as the Grand Isle Resort & Spa and the luxuriously elegant all-inclusive Sandals Resort, to condo-resorts and locally-owned fishing lodges, offers an amazing assortment of vacation possibilities. Tourism is important to the Exuma chain which is full of dream destinations for boaters, fishermen (flats, reef and offshore), divers, snorkelers and kayakers. The private islands and cays are custom-designed for those seeking the ultimate escape, and the new levels of luxury available offer perfect spots for an island wedding or honeymoon.
The islands are a popular spot for yachting, sailing, diving, and coral reef and cave exploring. Some of the islands on which there are permanent residents and resorts include Norman's Cay, Wax Cay, Fowl Cay, Staniel Cay, Black Point, Farmer's Cay, Musha Cay and Barraterre. Thunderball Grotto, located just a few hundred yards from Staniel Cay, is where the James Bond movie "Thunderball" was filmed. Sandy Cay, just a short boat ride from Little Exuma, was the location used for "The Pirates of the Caribbean". The novel Wind from the Carolinas was set in Great Exuma, and featured the ancestors of today's prominent Exumians.
The anchor of the Exuma archipelago is Great Exuma, where one can enjoy a great selection of casual Bahamian restaurants and iconic resorts such as the Peace & Plenty Hotel, which was named after a ship bringing Loyalists and slaves to Exuma that was shipwrecked in George Town in 1818. Today it is a meeting place for friends of old, especially at the annual Exuma Regatta, where they cheer on the keen competition between sloops in Elizabeth Harbour.
Stocking Island features spectacular views from atop its high bluff and a series of idyllic beaches separated by limestone promontories. On the leeward side, the Chat & Chill is a classic beach bar which attracts boaters from near and far.
Exuma International Airport serves George Town directly from Nassau, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta and Toronto. Norman's Cay, Staniel Cay, Black Point and Farmer's Cay have government approved and operated airstrips.
Sandals at Emerald Bay
We recently stayed at Sandals at Emerald Bay in Exuma and were immensely impressed by the tremendous contribution that this resort makes to the Exuma economy. Its 250 ocean-view and ocean-front suites, some with exclusive butler service, its championship 18-hole golf course and a 150-slip deep-water marina have propelled Sandals to become the superlative resort on Great Exuma. The full-time employment of 600 persons has enormously and positively impacted Exuma's economy, as has the greatly enhanced and revitalized airlift resulting from direct jet service from Canada, a project initiated by Sandals' owner and chairman, Gordon "Butch" Stewart.
Sandals also has a substantial community outreach program, having established five computer centers on the island and is working on its sixth. In addition, there are many community activities to which Sandals contributes, like the Exuma Regatta, which exemplifies its robust commitment and astounding corporate citizenship to the island's community and future development.
The main island has been a haven for celebrities for years. Until recently, the tourist population on the island was minimal, allowing anonymity for anyone wanting to escape the spotlight. Frequent visitors included Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, who has stayed at Goat Cay, the late Jackie Onassis, and Jessica Tandy.
In light of the relatively reasonable cost and the relatively attractive Bahamian tax regime for non-Bahamians, a number of celebrities own luxuriously exclusive private islands and cays and palatial homes or resorts in the Exuma chain. These celebrities include the Aga Khan, Nicolas Cage, David Copperfield, Johnny Depp, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Ali Karimi, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Irvine, Butch Stewart and Tyler Perry.
The hub of the Exuma Cays is Staniel Cay, where boaters congregate at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club's bar and restaurant, and where a landing strip serves as the gateway to many of the other cays.
There are several urgent infrastructural enhancements required, principally on Great Exuma if the island is to continue on its successful trajectory. The Exuma International Airport is in urgent need of modernization and there is an equally urgent necessity to construct a new shipping port, which some have suggested should be erected at Barraterre, as much for revitalizing that and other surrounding communities as for being the most appropriate location because of its deep-water and sheltered harbour.
Exuma remains one of the best kept secrets of The Bahamas and will continue to emerge as one of the more sustained successes of the nation, as its prospects for continued growth and development are extremely bright. In the words of George A. Smith, who represented Exuma for 29 years in Parliament: "Over these islands and cays, the winds whisper endlessly; and the seas and beaches are of almost unbelievable colours of aquamarine and whiteness and of beauty."
We will continue our tour of other Islands of The Bahamas later in the year.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it the politically correct thing to say that the "chickens have come home and will continue to come home to roost" regarding the overcrowding of Nassau? Then that question begs another question: Why is it that we are politically intimidated and extremely cautious when it comes to freedom of speech, especially speech that is non-treasonous?
Cooking may be all about bringing together the right ingredients in the right quantities and applying
techniques to create a delicious meal that stimulates the senses. For Noel St. Claude, the executive chef at Treasure Cay Resort and Marina, his recipes combine formal training with old Bahamian techniques, marries indigenous produce with international favorites, and fuses formal kitchen experience with great-grandmother’s banana-leaf practicality.
“I approach the culinary field through the eyes of junkanoo, and through using natural resources given to us by Mother Nature,” the executive chef said.
St. Claude has three restaurants under him at the Treasure Cay Resort: ...
Vowing that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) will "put Bahamians back to work", PLP Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis said in Grand Bahama on Friday night the party would "raise work permit fees for jobs Bahamians are qualified to perform" if it wins the next general election.
"We are ready to revive Grand Bahama," said Davis during his party's formal introduction of its Grand Bahama candidates at Our Lucaya Resort.
Davis said the PLP would establish a program to identify Bahamians who are qualified to fill jobs when work permits that are now granted expire.
He added, "We will significantly cut taxes at the airport and harbor.
"The PLP will reduce hotel taxes by 50 percent for a period of five years for existing hotels and 10 years for new hotels in Grand Bahama.
"You can hold us to that. We are serious about bringing about a rebirth on this island."
Davis also said a PLP government would promote local entertainment on Grand Bahama.
"We will provide incentives and technical support for restaurants, nightclubs, local craft markets and support to develop bed and breakfast lodgings," he said. "We will awaken this magic city."
Davis said a PLP government would also provide incentives and subsidies for airlift of tourists to Grand Bahama, including targeted scheduled flights and charters for the provision of airlift for seasonal and event-related tourism.
"Your next PLP government will upgrade the Grand Bahama Island Promotion Board, to improve promotion of Grand Bahama in international markets," he said, vowing that, "It is Grand Bahama's time."
Davis also announced that the PLP is committed to extending duty free concessions to East and West Grand Bahama.
He said Grand Bahamians must decide whether they want to continue on the FNM's path of "job losses and failed opportunities".
"The better choice is the PLP with plans for job creation and empowerment that will put you first," he said.
The PLP currently has only one MP in Grand Bahama, Obie Wilchcombe, who represents West End and Bimini.
The other five existing seats in Grand Bahama are all held by the Free National Movement.
After the next election, there will be five seats in Grand Bahama, as a result of boundary cuts.
The PLP will again run Wilchcombe in West End and Bimini.
It will also run Julian Russell (Central Grand Bahama); Tanisha Tynes (East Grand Bahama); Gregory Moss (Marco City) and Michael Darville (Pineridge).
Davis urged Grand Bahamians "to come home with the PLP".
"Come with us as we set a course to put Bahamians back to work," he said.
"Come with us as we point young Bahamians into an era of prosperity and growth.
"Come with us as we build our nation and restore opportunity to the thousands of our countrymen and women."
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - Truly Bahamian breakfast awaits you daily at Led Med, Mediterranean Restaurant located on the marina at Port Lucaya.
Delicious Stew Fish, Boiled Fish, Chicken Souse, Stew Conch, Corned Beef and Grits are all available every morning at Le Med.
So when you're craving a tasty Bahamian breakfast made homemade style, head to Le Med.
A 15-minute video on the impact Value Added Tax (VAT) has had on the twin-island state of St. Kitts & Nevis has been making the social media rounds in recent weeks, posted and re-posted by many Bahamians linked in the online community.
The video, moderated by Rev. Conrad Howell of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), was created ahead of what had been the planned April 1, 2013 implementation of VAT in TCI.
The video features a number of prominent citizens of St. Kitts & Nevis, including business leaders, former Minister of Finance Richard Caines, and also everyday citizens outlining the "negative" impacts VAT has had on their economy since its implementation three years ago.
Business leaders speak of having to close their businesses, of the sharp and sudden rise in the cost of living. Other citizens speak of the stunning decline in their quality of life.
Such reports have increased fears among an already worried Bahamian population preparing for the introduction of VAT at a rate of 15 percent on July 1, 2014.
In the absence of information on the likely impact of VAT on their way of life, and on their economy, many Bahamians view this video as a model of things to come, notwithstanding recent reports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that St. Kitts & Nevis is seeing signs of an economic recovery.
Calvin Cable, executive director of the St. Kitts & Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, told National Review that VAT had a "multiplier effect in terms of hardships on the populace".
Cable said a consumption tax was removed and the VAT of 17 percent was introduced.
Two other taxes, the customs duty and the customs service charge, were retained in addition to the 17 percent VAT, he explained.
"It was tremendous on the cost of living," Cable said. "You could have felt it in the number of packages being taken out by householders out of the supermarkets because the prices of goods went up pretty high, maybe about 25 percent overnight."
As a result of VAT, many people in St. Kitts & Nevis cut back significantly, he said; many of them eliminated all luxuries.
"People stopped going out to restaurants to eat and that sort of thing because it was proving to be too much to carry," he said.
VAT is viewed by governments as an attractive option as it taxes both goods and services.
The current narrow based tax system in The Bahamas has long been in need of an overhaul, according to government officials and various international agencies examining The Bahamas' tax structure.
Cable also noted that prior to the implementation of VAT, there were very few charges or taxes on services in St. Kitts & Nevis.
"And so, what the population had to deal with now was that services were being charged VAT, which was not the custom before," he said.
"For instance, doctors fees, lawyers fees, services in the tourism sector -- and I know The Bahamas is big on tourism. For instance, rented cars had to pay the 17 percent."
Cable said VAT provided a "windfall" for the government in taking from the services sector, "but most of that was coming out of the local population".
"So the amount of disposable income that they had on their side was drastically reduced and the buying power was drastically diminished," he said.
In St. Kitts & Nevis, VAT is credited with bolstering the government's fiscal position, but Cable said it happened "on the backs of the local people".
Prior to the implementation of VAT, the country experienced debt levels above 200 percent, which made it one of the world's most indebted countries.
The debt to GDP ratio is now inching closer to the 100 percent mark.
St. Kitts and Nevis' Minister of Information Nigel Carty previously pointed to the "herculean effort that has been exerted to bring great relief to the country's fiscal position at such an economically challenging time".
While The Bahamas' debt situation has not been as dire as that of St. Kitts & Nevis, it has reached a position where it is now unsustainable.
The Bahamas government has outlined its own efforts to bring relief to this country's fiscal position.
As we noted in this space last week, government debt as at June 30, 2014 is projected to be $4.9 billion, compared to $2.4 billion as at July 2007.
Over the last two fiscal years, the government has seen a total deficit in excess of $500 million.
Almost one out of every four dollars in revenue collected by the government must be allocated to pay the interest charges on the public debt and cover the debt repayment.
With a significant change in the country's tax system on the horizon, The Bahamas government has not yet produced any studies to show the likely impact VAT will have on the cost of living.
In every sector, there are understandably questions about how this new regime will affect business.
The man and woman on the street are equally concerned, as they already exist in a climate of high unemployment, where many are finding it hard to meet their obligations and disposable spending has been stretched to the limit.
The government is now asking citizens to shoulder the burden of reversing a burdensome debt situation.
Again, there is no doubting that it is time for action. The chosen route is of course value added tax, which the government says is a central element of its tax reform strategy.
A new IMF report "Tax Reforms for Increased Buoyancy", which was prepared for the government, notes that The Bahamas has low taxes compared to the rest of the world, excluding Central American countries.
It points out that many countries in the region have already introduced VAT, thus providing "a stable source of tax revenues".
The report notes further that almost all the countries in the region have taxes on income and profits. Furthermore, they have high excises on petroleum products.
While The Bahamas is only now moving in the direction of VAT, several of its Caribbean neighbors -- among them, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago -- implemented VAT more than a decade ago.
Speaking of the Barbados experience, Lalu Vaswani, president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, described VAT as a "very efficient means of collecting tax as it increases the base on which the taxes can be collected".
"I think it has been a positive impact, although it was not without its challenges," Vaswani said in an interview with National Review.
Vaswani said that prior to the implementation of VAT in Barbados in 1997, the country had as many as 11 different types of duties or imposts that could be charged on imports.
"The increased effectiveness of collecting revenue gave the government more scope to do their development projects," Vaswani said.
"From a business perspective, there are always anxieties associated with changes, and it is always desirable that there is a maximum amount of consultations even when the final positions are not known.
"So there is an understanding from ground level what are the goals, specific objectives and how you propose to do it because very often what you theoretically are trying to do may have a unique challenge, which may be identified before it is implemented and resolved and prevented."
Former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur noted in a 2010 interview with Erasmus Williams, press secretary to the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, that high debt levels are inevitable in the absence of a tax base to generate the revenue needed to run a country.
"I supported the VAT when I was in opposition in Barbados because I thought it stood the test of reasonableness, but it was absolutely necessary," said Arthur, whose administration introduced VAT.
"You're living in a set of countries where year by year, period by period, governments will have to remove import duties. What are you going to replace them with? And that is the basic question."
Arthur said VAT created the basis for sustained growth "without fiscal difficulties".
"It allowed us to be able to introduce programs to aggressively mount and sustain policies to eradicate poverty and we did that by creating the base for sustainable growth in the country," he said.
The most recent Caribbean country to implement VAT was St. Lucia, which did so just over a year ago at a rate of 15 percent.
Gerard Bergasse, president of the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture, noted that VAT pulls more people into the tax net.
"When you are relying on other forms of taxation, they are not as broad based, so you have a much narrower tax base, which means that the tax on those people has to be higher to achieve your revenue targets," Bergasse told National Review.
"But when you have a broad based tax like VAT, it means that everybody is contributing, so it makes it fairer. And it does not take the fiscal tool out of government's hands because they can still zero rate items, or zero rate a basket of goods that they feel would help less advantaged people."
The Bahamas government's White Paper on Tax Reform notes that zero-rating a supply implies applying a zero VAT rate and allowing credits for VAT paid on inputs.
It says that zero-rating should definitely be applied to exports as a VAT is designed to tax only domestic consumption. Other than that, zero-rating should be strictly limited, if utilized at all, the document says.
Bergasse said that based on anecdotal evidence, many people would say that VAT was a necessary evil in St. Lucia.
"I still believe that VAT was the right thing for the government to have done and it's moving in the right direction," Bergasse said.
He said while the government is not now experiencing a huge windfall, as far as he is aware its revenue targets have been met.
Bergasse said the Chamber of Commerce supported the implementation of VAT from the beginning and was a part of the government's pre-implementation VAT team.
Bergasse pointed to the need for proper consultations ahead of the implementation of VAT.
But he recognized that making VAT understandable to a cross-section of people is "very difficult".
"I will warrant that there are still business people in St. Lucia who still do not understand VAT," Bergasse said.
"...It is a bit of a complicated tax, so it does take people a while to wrap their heads around it and it does make a difference the way your legislation is structured. We didn't get the legislation until very late in the day and even after we got the legislation there are the regulations that go along with it that are very important, because the legislation is the 'what'; the regulations are the 'how'."
He noted that the fundamental change created by VAT is that the business community is changed from being solely taxpayers to being tax collectors.
When properly structured, VAT is a tax on consumption, not business.
In The Bahamas, the proposed VAT legislation and regulations have not yet been released to the public, so the specifics are still unknown.
The government, meanwhile, is planning on increasing public education and awareness in a series of meetings set to begin this week.
Prime Minister Perry Christie has said the July 1 implementation date is not set in stone and he, as minister of finance, needs to be satisfied that businesses and the country at large are ready for the implementation of VAT.
As the government prepares to intensify public education on VAT, it is hoping to quiet what appears to be growing public sentiment against VAT.
The chairman of Sandals Resorts International is considering a 75-room expansion to his Exuma property, noting there is "ample capacity" for growth.
Gordon 'Butch' Stewart said Sandals Emerald Bay has undergone an extensive "Sandalization" program to bring the resort up to Sandals' standards. That included the addition of a new pool, restaurants and weddings locations, in addition to "totally reviving" the Greg Norman championship golf course.
"We've since added more luxurious rooms and suites and restaurants and there is ample capacity for further expansion," he told Guardian Business. "Ideally, we'd love to add another 75 rooms and suites and are looking into the
possibility of that in the future."
Stewart noted, however, that the expansion is not fully confirmed at this stage.
The tentative approach is understandable considering the chain's recent challenges in Exuma.
Like many destinations on the Family Islands, maintaining consistent airlift and keeping operating costs down are key factors to achieving profitability. Sandals recently expressed concern over the resort's continued sustainability on Exuma, prompting a strong sign of support from the Bahamian government.
David Johnson, the director general at the Ministry of Tourism, revealed yesterday at Caribbean Marketplace that "realizing the potential and profitability in the long run requires more capacity", calling Sandals Emerald Bay "relatively small" for the brand.
First on the agenda, however, is boosting the resort's occupancy by up to 20 percent.
"We have talked about the expansion," he said. "That is the next phase. But first, they need to get healthy."
Johnson noted that Sandals has heavily subsidized planes coming into Exuma to ensure profits. The resort was funding airlift in an "imbalanced way", he added, and it was indeed an unsustainable situation. The government has since chipped in and taken on some of that burden, as well as helping them with other operating costs, according to Johnson.
Four Seasons, a premier international brand, closed down in Exuma back in 2009. Sandals scooped up the property the next year and pumped tens of millions into its revitalization.
The resort is the number one employer on the island and serves as the heart of Exuma's economy.
By INDERIA SAUNDERS
Guardianâ Business Reporter
A multi-million dollar deal for the FMLâ Group of Companies to purchase the Chez Willie property on West Bay Street and has been completed,Guardian Businesscan confirm.
The acquisition will kickstart the transformation of the old property, formerly a popular Bahamian restaurant, with around 40 construction jobs expected to be created in the next seven months during the build out of the project.
It's a development that will operate as a quasi-museum/office space for the company, said FML's CEO Craig Flowers. He is now preparing to present the final details and concept of the project to the Town Planning Committ ...
When I saw the photos of the thick oil slick that washed up on Adelaide beach last week, I was not surprised in the slightest. The fact of the matter is that one or more of the industrial facilities at Clifton Pier have been leaking oil and other forms of pollution into the land and sea for years.
These spills and leaks have continued unimpeded and have not been properly investigated by the authorities. In my humble opinion, this failure on the part of our officials is not neglect or laziness, but rather the result of a fear that they will trace some or all of these leaks back to their own Bahamas Electricity Corporation plant.
While it is never good to see one of our beautiful Bahamian beaches saturated with toxic black sludge, I am almost happy this happened, as it will hopefully bring focused attention to this decades-old scandal that has been effectively shielded from the public view.
Many Bahamians still fish in Clifton Bay and feed their catch to their families or sell it to local restaurants. Oil pollution is highly toxic and can cause a host of very serious health problems. But as long as the slick continued to drift out to sea, though, there was no smoking gun and no reason to face up to facts.
Now, with the evidence literally washed up on our doorstep, we have a reason to force our government to finally investigate this travesty properly, identify the culprit or culprits and force them to clean up their act.
- A.M. Johnson
Just nine months away from its planned December 8 opening, the Baha Mar resort is on target with "75 percent to 80 percent" of the construction work complete and a ramp up of marketing planned for the third quarter of this year.
The government has hinged part of its hopes for an economic recovery, and a dip in unemployment, on the resort's opening.
Robert Sands, the resort's senior vice president of administration and external affairs, said while Baha Mar is not the only economic driver in town, he is sure the property will be able to live up to these expectations by pulling in arrivals and putting thousands of Bahamians to work.
"There is an expectation for Baha Mar in this particular area," he told Guardian Business. "We are satisfied that we are going to do our part.
"We're not the only economic driver in the country, but we are satisfied that the jobs that we are going to create will make a significant dent in the unemployment in this country, and we will also be a major stimulus to economic growth in the country going forward."
Sands said the property has more than 10,000 applications for operational jobs. Baha Mar's recruitment team has started reviewing these applications to forward to the property's brands for consideration.
To date, the property has created more than 2,800 job opportunities for Bahamians and put out more than $615 million worth of contracts out to bid for Bahamian contractors.
There are more than 350 Bahamians currently working on the construction site, including construction workers. The resort's core team consists of 150 Bahamians.
There are nearly 3,000 foreign workers on the site and the bulk of this figure is made up of Chinese laborers.
"We have more than lived up to our commitment outlined in our heads of agreement with the government of The Bahamas," Sands said.
The Leadership Development Institute, one of the resort's recruitment programs, has had more than 3,500 participants and received more than 2,900 applications to date.
The resort plans to hire 4,000 hotel workers this year. Sands said he is confident that the property will be able to fill this void with Bahamian talent.
"The challenge will always remain in the middle to upper management categories, but we are satisfied that we will have the training in place that will be able to match the skill sets of the individuals we retain to the goals, the policies and also to the expectations that we have in the jobs that we will be matching them with."
Once open, Baha Mar will have to contend with competition from the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. Principals from the Albany development last month signed an amended heads of agreement with the government for a $140 million expansion, which is expected to transform the property into the Monaco of the Caribbean.
Sands said Baha Mar will be able to coexist with these properties and will offer something unique to visitors, particularly its casino.
He added that the resort's gaming partner, Global Gaming Access Management, is "world class" and responsible for some of the world's most successful casinos.
"We are satisfied that we are an adult destination and that we are in fact a gaming resort," Sands said, when asked about fears of competition. "Our niche is pretty much focused, we welcome Albany in their effort to help to raise the profile of tourism in The Bahamas, but we are very satisfied that the direction that we are going [in], we will be very successful in those market niches.
"In addition to gaming, we are going to have some emphasis on meetings and conventions and our luxury market as well. So we are very satisfied that Baha Mar will be able to generate the numbers of business, bodies that will be required to make us a very successful gaming resort on day one."
A key focus of the property is incorporating Bahamian culture and art into its concept.
"The whole ethos about Baha Mar is about things Bahamian," said Sands. "Our visionary leader says it all the time, we're not called the golden horse rising from the sea. We're called Baha Mar, which means beautiful blue waters. So even from our name, everything that we do characterizes authenticity and things Bahamian."
The resort has hired Bahamian artist John Cox as its creative arts director and aims to put local art at the forefront of its design. Baha Mar's local art alliances include The D'Aguilar Art Foundation, The Dawn Davies Collection and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.
The resort's amenities will include a 100,000-square-foot casino, an 18-hole, 72-par Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, the ESPA at Baha Mar spa and more than a dozen pools.
Other attractions will include 50,000 square feet of high-end retail and shopping, and over 30 restaurants, bars and lounges.
The resort will also include 200,000 square feet of combined state-of-the-art convention facilities, including a 2,000-seat performing arts center and an art gallery with the largest curated collection of Bahamian art; a beachfront sanctuary with native Bahamian flora and fauna, and a private island.
Baha Mar officials are expected to take the media on a tour of its golf course today, which is set for completion by the second quarter of this year.
The manager of the Bay Street Marina has predicted a "bright future" for the marina and Bahamian yacht sector as a whole, while proposing a business hotel on the waterfront as part of a slate of possible further investments.
Marina Manager Peter Maury said that the marina "had a good start" and continues to perform well as the marina industry enters its busy season over the summer. In addition to the three restaurants onsite, Maury said that the marina hopes to further expand and is exploring proposals for retail stores, condos and a business hotel on the property.
"From our end, we're still putting proposals together to see what best suits the market," said Maury, adding that the addition of a business hotel would present a unique opportunity for the area.
Maury hoped that the marina could partner with a hotel chain to build a small business hotel on a portion of the marina's property, which would operate independently of the marina and would set itself apart from nearby competition by targeting businessmen and providing conference spaces.
The marina, which opened in November 2013, accommodates yachts of up to 150' and is currently at roughly 70 percent capacity. The marina is part of wider downtown revitalization efforts, and Maury projected that the area would continue to grow over the next few years through continued developments.
Turning his attention to the wider yacht industry, Maury stated that The Bahamas was currently in a unique position within the region to attract yacht tourism.
"With the increased price in fuel and modern navigation, we have a good opportunity here to raise the awareness of yacht visitors," said Maury, adding that the industry could expand by raising the frequency of super yacht visits to The Bahamas.
While Maury felt that the country needed to increase the ease of doing business in the face of mounting taxes, including value-added tax (VAT) and charter fees, he remained optimistic about the marina's future.
"I see a bright future for the marina industry if we can control the cost of yachts visiting the Bahamas...We can really increase the presence of yachts that spend more per capita in this country than any other tourism sector, but that's not going to happen if we scare everybody out of here."
An online brokerage launched early last year is reporting more than 100,000 equity transactions each day, a figure that far exceeds all other Bahamian firms combined.
SureTrader.com, listed with the Securities Exchange of The Bahamas since January 2012, has increased its staff to eight Bahamians and filled out its 4,000-square-foot office at Elizabeth on Bay. The firm plans to hire up to 20 more people by the end of this year and currently seeks professional Bahamians amid expansion, according to its founder Guy Gentile.
The parent company, Swiss American Securities Limited, is also the founder of SpeedTrader.com, a U.S. online trading broker with around $20 million in annual revenue.
Gentile told Guardian Business that SureTrader.com is poised to earn $25 million in annual revenue in 2013.
"What gives us our edge is superior trading technology and a New York business approach," he said. "I operate a lean aggressive staff that has a strong desire to be the best. Not only the best in The Bahamas, but the best in the world."
Gentile added that SureTrader.com hopes to open 5,000 new accounts in 2013 after opening 2,000 in 2012. The firm wants to become the largest brokerage in The Bahamas by revenue in 2014.
"We have given ourselves an advantage by offering extended margin leverage of 6-1 compared to 3-1 in Canada and 4-1 in the U.S. We have the largest short list in the industry, we allow shorting in penny stocks, and you can fund an account easily with a credit card. There are no restrictions on day trading," he added.
Later this year, Swiss American plans to widen its project offerings through Canadian stock and options, Gentile said, and by connecting VISA debit cards to the accounts.
Following a staffing boost, the firm also wants to offer a customer service line and eventually go to 24 hours after adding European trading. The company has recently aligned itself with RBC Royal Bank, Interactive Brokers, ETC Clearing and DAS Trader.
Gentile, a U.S. investor, remains the largest tenant in the Elizabeth on Bay plaza, located on East Bay Street. He has invested approximately $400,000 into the new SureTrader.com office, with an additional $1.5 million or so in Sur Sushi.
The latter is expected to open in the coming weeks.
Back in December, Gentile reported that the restaurant has received more than 500 applications. Only 45 Bahamians will be hired for the trendy, new restaurant. Blu, formerly located across from the up-and-coming Sur Sushi, closed its doors late last year and put dozens of Bahamians out of work. Investors hope Gentile and his business ventures will help re-energize the plaza and East Bay Street.
The basic principle that underlies the minimal wage is that workers should be treated fairly and compensated for their contribution to the businesses that they work in. Usually, workers are compensated based on their productivity which, in turn, depends on their level of education, knowledge and work ethic. This is why in each business, the level of compensation that each worker receives is commensurate with his or her level of productivity. Workers' compensation is also influenced by the different skill set requirements, the supply and demand for labor, the overall profitability of a business and the monopolistic status of a business.
The more productive any business is, the more money it makes. In most countries, business earnings are directly related to the state of the economy, and thus, there is a direct relationship between business earnings and GDP. Business earnings are a manifestation of the total productivity of the business and GDP, as the name implies, is the sum of the productivity of all businesses in a country. As a general rule, the growth in earnings in any business cannot outpace the GDP growth rate.
Generally, the profits of each business entity are shared between business owners (shareholders), the management, the workers and the government (in the form of taxes). The question is, in any given year, to what extent should the workers share in the profits of a business. This is sometimes referred to as the balance between capital (owners) and labor (workers). Ideally, workers should be compensated based on their contribution to the overall productivity of a business. However, in most countries over any period of time, this balance can fluctuate in favor of either capital or labor.
In the U.S., there has been a large disparity between the compensation of management and workers to the point where, in some cases, management compensation is 300 times that of the average worker. There has been much debate as to whether this level of management compensation is fair or an example of gross inequality and greed. Really, the only way to justify such a disparity would be to estimate the productivity of any given CEO, compared to an average worker.
Although some people may be envious of the profits made by business owners during good economic times, there is no reciprocating sympathy for owners during hard times when they may actually lose money. Owners take the risk to start a business and, depending on the success or failure of the business, they either make or lose money. However, irrespective of economic conditions, the workers who have not taken any risk, expect and should be compensated for their contribution. One of the problems with the unions in The Bahamas is that often, when they are in negotiations concerning workers' compensation, they appear to be insensitive to prevailing economic conditions and the level of productivity of the workers.
On another level, there is always the question as to whether the government's share of business earnings, otherwise known as taxes, is fair or equitable. And this always leads to the age-old question as to whether businesses are paying their fair share of taxes or whether they are being over-taxed. I think it's probably fair to say that businesses in The Bahamas are under-taxed and somewhat inappropriately taxed by government as a percentage of their profits. But on balance, because of core inflation, their effective tax rate is exceedingly higher than their counterparts in the U.S.
Thus, there is an ongoing four-way struggle for the distribution of business earnings. However, at any point in time, there are a number of forces at play which ultimately determine business wealth distribution. The government determines the level of business taxes and, thus, its share of the distribution. Businesses that have a global presence have the option of moving their operations to another lower tax jurisdiction when faced with high levels of domestic taxation. But governments can also impact business wealth distribution through policy initiatives that favor industry over households, as is the case in China and Germany. In these countries, the distribution of wealth is very much in favor of industry over households, and thus employees' share of productivity is limited by government policy.
Over the past five years, in the U.S. there has been a tremendous amount of attention paid to management compensation of business/corporate executives, especially those in the financial services sector. The problem in this case is that the compensation of the executives is usually determined by the boards of directors of the companies, who are usually appointed by the CEO and are, often, personal friends. The problem is that shareholders have no say in the matter and thus the system has been abused. In Switzerland, however, laws have been passed that limit the compensation of CEOs to a certain multiple of the average worker.
In the case of the average worker, compensation is primarily determined by four factors: inherent productivity, government policy, inflation (consumer price inflation and core inflation) and the existence and strength of the unions. I have already discussed the impact of productivity and government on labor compensation, but the impact of the two types of inflation is equally important. For example, when the economy is going well and there are low levels of unemployment, workers have more leverage over owners and options. In this case, employers, usually, have to raise the wages of employees which, in turn, increases their buying power which leads to more demand in the economy (more consumption), which leads to an increase in prices, which leads to a higher cost of living, which then leads to workers demanding higher salaries. Of course, the opposite cascade occurs during an economic downturn, such as now is the case in The Bahamas.
Core or structural inflation has an even greater impact on the effective income of workers. For example, in The Bahamas, even though the consumer price index (CPI) has been reasonably moderate, running around two percent, the level of core inflation has been horrendously high. The primary causes of core inflation are the high cost of energy, the high cost of money (high interest rates), the high cost of real estate and real estate transaction costs, exchange control and the tax structure (import duties). Core inflation has essentially reduced the real incomes of all Bahamians and reduced our national productivity (GDP) and thus also our global competitiveness.
Another way of looking at this is to compare the average worker's income in The Bahamas, which is $16,500, to the GDP per capita which is $22,500. This disparity would imply that there is productivity gap in dollar terms of some $6,500 between the average income of workers and their productive input into the economy. Moreover, the living wage in The Bahamas is around $45,000 per person. The difference between this figure and the average worker's annual income of $16,500 is $29,500. This figure is representative of the impact of core inflation on the income of workers. This difference is also the reason why the average Bahamian is forced to beg, steal and borrow in order to sustain him or herself. Notice also that the primary reasons for core inflation were energy costs, the cost of capital, real estate exchange control and the tax structure. This would imply that every year in The Bahamas there is a massive transfer of wealth from both the workers and businesses to the oil wholesalers, the banks and the government. This, in turn, has significant economic consequences as both the oil and bank related wealth transfers are expatriated each year, which means that these funds are not available to grow the local economy and thus provide the opportunity for more employment. The wealth that accrues to government is seldom used in a productive manner that creates productive employment.
The third factor that helps to determine the income of workers are the unions. The unions' primary role is to negotiate on behalf of the workers to ensure that they are paid fair wages and receive all of the associated benefits. For the most part, Bahamian trade unions have done a good job in negotiating on behalf of their memberships for salary increases and benefits. However, in some cases there has been no associated commensurate increase in the productivity of some workers with the increase in salaries and benefits, and this has had a stifling impact on certain businesses, especially the fast food industry. In aggregate, union leaders could have better improved the standard of living of their membership had they pressed government to implement policies that could have reduced core inflation.
Over the past several weeks, most of the discussion about the minimum wage has been primarily focused on the two opposing traditional, but somewhat one-dimensional views, on the impact of changes of the minimum wage level on the economy. Those (government and the unions) in favor of an increase, argue that increasing the minimum wage will improve the standard of living of workers. This view is supported by the thought that the marginal propensity to spend money is far greater for low income workers compared to higher income workers. This will, in turn, increase overall consumption in the economy and thus all businesses will be better off with a corresponding increase in GDP. Those who hold this view are not wrong about the economic consequences, but like President Obama they often confuse the minimum wage with a living wage, and as described above the two are quite different.
The opposing argument is that, with the introduction of VAT, and potentially, a new healthcare tax and a mandatory pension scheme, businesses will be unable to bear the added burden of these expenses. They further posit that with an increase in the minimum wage, owners will be under pressure to increase the salaries of existing employees, and as a result, will be inclined to release some of their current employees and will potentially hire fewer future employees. If the later two outcomes were to occur, this would result in less future consumption and thus a decrease in GDP. Moreover, they speculate that during an economic recession, there are many people who might be willing to work for a lower wage, but because the employers cannot by law pay this lower wage they cannot be employed.
The overall impact of these opposing economic views depends of course on what percentage of the work force is impacted by any change in the minimum wage level, the state of the economy and the level of unemployment. Estimates vary as to how many employees would be impacted by the increase in the minimum wage level, but the consensus of opinions is that there are about 40,000 people who are currently earning less than the proposed $7 per hour. I would guesstimate that most of these individuals work in the food services (restaurants and fast food establishments), housekeeping and groundsmen services, or as gas station attendants or in the underground economy. If one assumes that each of these persons is working 40 hours per week, and the minimum wage is increased by $3.0 ( $4.0 to $7.0) then the collective annual payroll of businesses would be increased by approximately $250 million. The impact of a mandatory increase in payroll of this magnitude, especially during the current economic recession, could be the death toll for many of the aforementioned businesses. None of these businesses have the advantage of being a part of a monopoly or oligopoly, and thus cannot increase their prices to offset the increase in expenses associated with the increase in the minimum wage. Furthermore, in many instances like the gas stations and the fast food industries profit margins are very thin and any increase in expenses would certainly result in closure and a further increase in unemployment. The underground economy would not be impacted, because being out of the formal system, underground owners would not have to comply with the new policy. Paradoxically, there might be an increase in the supply of labor available to the underground economy because there could be so many persons desperate for work who might not be employed because of the increase in the minimum wage level, many who are prepared to work at the present minimal wage but cannot find jobs in the formal economy and those who will be released from the formal economy because of the increase in the minimal wage. The net effect of this would be to drive down wages even further in the underground economy.
Not the desired impact
Thus any increase in the minimum wage given the current set of circumstances would not have the desired impact of increasing the incomes of workers, but would lead to an increase in unemployment levels and a decrease in the aggregate (collective) income of workers. The increase in unemployment would result in more welfare payments, fewer National Insurance contributions (payments) and more crime. This, in turn, would result in lower levels of national consumption, a decrease in GDP and an increase in the debt; GDP and the negative economic cascade associated with this.
However, if the government were to focus on reducing core inflation then there would be a transfer of wealth from the banks, the oil wholesalers and the government to households and businesses. This would result in a positive economic cascade because there would be an increase in the real income of workers at all levels, all businesses and government. Moreover, there would then be more consumption, investments and new businesses resulting in an increase in GDP and a reduction in the debt to GDP ratio.
There are many factors that determine the wages and incomes of all of the stakeholders in any economy. When any change is contemplated, those contemplating the change must carefully review the possible intentional and unintentional consequences of such change on the overall economy. To a large extent it's a balancing act between what is fair and equitable and what is economically feasible.The question is will government implement the increase in the minimum wage without seeking any local advice on all of the possible economic consequences? If it's management of VAT and the numbers industry is any indicator, then I would assume that they will consult with at least three foreign economic consulting groups, two multinational entities, and some $2 million later in expenses, come to the conclusion that this is not the most opportune time to take such action. But, true to form, having put the proverbial political foot in their mouth, government leaders will still proceed forward with their plan and consequently further increase the number of business and home foreclosures, raise unemployment levels and further increase the debt to GDP!
o Dr. Jonathan Rodgers is a Bahamian opthalmologist, businessman, and author of two books on the Bahamian economy, "The Bahamian Dream" and "Is it really better in The Bahamas for Bahamians?"
Abaco's first wine and food festival won "overwhelming support" from locals and visitors alike, according to organizers.
A spin-off of a popular Nova Scotia-based festival, the Devour! The Beach food and wine festival took place at the Green Turtle Club and Marina from March 26-29, attracting a solid attendance.
"Devour! The Beach was an extraordinary cultural event that showcased local cuisine along with the talents of North America's best chefs," said Adam Showell, owner of the Green Turtle Club and Marina. "We are proud to be the host of such a successful event in its first year."
The Bahamian communities warmly embraced the event with the majority of the attendees from Green Turtle Cay, Treasure Cay, Marsh Harbour and Nassau.
International attendees travelled from the far corners of North America to join in on the celebrations. Guests came from Nova Scotia, Manitoba, British Columbia, Ohio, New York, Tennessee, Connecticut, Florida, and Wyoming.
"Devour! The Beach offered a new product for Abaco and was well-received by visitors and locals alike," said Wynsome Ferguson, manager of Abaco's Bahamas Tourist Office, who was representing the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
"It gave an economic boost to our economy and commenced our tourist season, attracting newcomers to the destination. Devour! The Beach has great potential for future growth."
The festival's events were near capacity with 70 percent attendance - a great accomplishment for the inaugural event. Despite minor weather interruptions, the beach party, appropriately titled 'Chefs on a Beach', was nearly sold out at the Green Turtle Club.
By the week's end, with four days of wine seminars and culinary indulgences incorporating local ingredients and the varied global backgrounds of all of the chefs, visiting chef, Jean Joho, who owns restaurants in Chicago and Las Vegas, said it was apparent that the event was a success. "The charm of the island, the warmth of the islanders, the appreciation of the attendees and the hospitality of the Green Turtle Resort staff made this a unique experience that I truly enjoyed and one that I would highly recommend," said Chef Joho.
Michael Palij, the festival's master of wine, thoroughly enjoyed his experience, adding: "Devour! That's exactly what I did. I devoured the amazing food prepared by a cadre of North America's leading chefs; I savored extremely fine wine; I absorbed the understated elegance of the unique Green Turtle Club and I reveled in mingling with dozens of like-minded foodies. 2015 - bring it on!"
Devour! The Beach is a spin-off of Devour! The Food Film Festival, based in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The fourth annual Food Film Festival will take place this coming November, and will showcase more than 50 film screenings from across the globe. It will also feature the very best of local and international food and wine and industry sessions with culinary experts on a variety of topics.
"Devour! The Beach is just the beginning when it comes to the full Devour! brand extension," said Executive Director Michael Howell. "We could not have picked a better spot to host the first Devour! satellite event."
Organizers of Devour! The Beach would like thank all of its sponsors: Island Property Management, Sound Harbour House, Spectacle Group, T4G, Infuse Public Relations, Abaco Estate Services, Burns House, John Watling's Run, Big Green Egg and Bahamas Food Services.
"A very special thank you goes to the Green Turtle Club Resort & Marina, Devour! The Beach's official event sponsor and host, along with the staff and management team of the resort, who worked tirelessly to ensure the event's success," said Chef Howell.
Howell also tipped his hat to Abaco's welcoming communities, along with chefs Jean Joho, Michael Howell, Michael Blackie, Tom Fleming, Craig Flinn, Eric Williams and Master of Wine Michael Palij.
Bahamas Waste has made considerable strides in their bio-diesel department, Guardian Business can reveal, as the managing director predicts his entire fleet will be powered through this method by sometime next year.
If accomplished, the move could mean higher profits for shareholders and indeed spark a revolution for other industries depended on oil and gas.
"We're hoping that next year, every truck will be on bio-diesel and we will have balanced the economy of scale," Francisco de Cardenas told Guardian Business.
"This means higher profits for shareholders. We will know our costs and not have to buy oil and gas according to fluctuating prices worldwide."
The bio-diesel program, first conceived five years ago, has made an increasingly large impact on company operations, according to Cardenas.
With at least $1 million already invested in the project, approximately 20 Bahamas Waste trucks are currently running on varying degrees of bio-diesel. However, as the company continues to hone the production process, it has yet to make a substantial financial impact on revenue.
Frederick Donathan, a manager at the facility, agreed that the goal in the near future is to "flat-line" the company's fuel costs.
"Beyond Bahamas Waste, there are huge implications for the technology," he explained during a tour of the facility.
"For example, it could have an impact on the fishing industry and bring down the cost of food. At the moment, our problem is finding enough oil and telling companies about the importance of conservation."
The quality of the used cooking oil, which provides the basis of bio-diesel fuel, is also essential.
Research and development are progressing rapidly, the company reports, and more companies are coming on board as suppliers.
Lamar Cancino, a Bahamian chemist employed at Bahamas Waste, is one of the leading minds behind the development of effective bio-fuel.
He told Guardian Business the company has 25 major suppliers of cooking oil.
Atlantis and the Disney Cruise Line, he said, provide the most resources, along with a list of restaurants and fast-food stores. The establishments provide the cooking oil free of charge, as Bahamas Waste gets rid of the precious liquid for free.
Pointing to a delivery truck and a series of processing tanks, he explained the filtering system, purchased from a firm in the U.S., has adequate capacity -- capable of producing up to 1 million gallons every year.
The challenge is honing the process and expanding their infrastructure to include more storage facilities to house the bio-diesel.
"We tend to collect the oil on a weekly basis, sometimes [every] two weeks depending on the company's production," he said.
"The idea is we have to bring down the free fatty acids in the oil to between 0 and 2 percent. It's blended, heated and undergoes a chemical reaction."
With the technology there, Donathan felt the key was to source quality oil from as many suppliers as possible to meet the future demand. He pointed out that Bahamas Waste has some competition for the used cooking oil. Haitian ship owners, he said, are now in the habit of paying 1 cent per gallon for the oil.
"But I think a lot of companies are increasingly getting on board with what we are trying to do," he said. "They might end off being the end users of this product."
In the meantime, Cardenas said Bahamas Waste will continue pushing forward with the program with high hopes for the near future.
"We are taking a used product historically placed in the landfill," he added.
"As time goes on it will become a serious hedge to our fuel costs and the spill-off effects of that will be tremendous."
ABACO - Visitors have flocked to Abaco in recent weeks to participate in fishing tournaments held on the island.
These tournaments included the 43rd Abaco Anglers Tournament, the Man-O-War Offshore Fishing Tournament, The Bahamas Billfish Championship Guana Cay Leg, and the Abaco Beach Resort's Signature Series Fishing Tournament.
These tournaments were held in April and the next one scheduled is The Green Turtle Cay Fishing Tournament from May 7 to 10. It will be followed later in the month by the Custom Shootout scheduled for May 15 to 18, and the Abaco Beach Resort's Signature Series Leg II, May 22 to 25.
More tournaments are tentatively scheduled for June.
Many of these tournaments are long-running fixtures on Abaco's calendar of events, such as The Bahamas Billfish Championship. It is celebrating 40 years.
Local and visiting anglers take an active role in many of the tournaments.
During the events local fueling stations, restaurants, shops, grocery stores and other businesses receive a much-needed boost.
In the past, successive Bahamian governments have supported the tournament season by allowing concessions on duty for many items brought in for the tournaments. Without such concessions many of the tournaments would not be possible.
Recognizing that the Asian market accounts for "large" amounts of outbound tourism, Baha Mar has made the decision to open up an office in Hong Kong.
Robert Sands, the resort's senior vice president of administration and external affairs, told Guardian Business yesterday he believes the company's latest move will generate "tremendous dividends for the future of Baha Mar".
Baha Mar announced that Gregory Djerejian, executive vice president, will head the company's new Asia business development operations to be located in Hong Kong. The new office in Jardine House is located in the heart of Hong Kong's central business district.
Sands said that for too long The Bahamas has been dependent on the U.S. to generate tourism-related business. With Baha Mar opening in December, he said it puts the country in a unique position to take advantage of other markets, adding that the decision to do so is "the right thing to do and a very prudent one".
"Certainly, Asia has been pivotal in the success of many touristic destinations and is also the contributor of large amounts of outbound tourism to many global destinations like Europe, the United States and Australia. Now The Bahamas is going to be getting a piece of the pie," according to Sands.
"Diversification is so important. We have been U.S.-centric both as a destination and as a company in the past. And we have not taken any real advantage of new, emerging markets."
In a press statement issued by the company on Wednesday, Baha Mar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sarkis Izmirlian revealed that Djerejian will oversee Baha Mar's Asia development interests, including travel and tourism partnerships, and working with its gaming partner Global Gaming Asset Management on developing Baha Mar's Asian clientele, as well as with other brand and strategic partners in Asia.
Djerejian said: "Chinese and Asian outbound tourism will be one of the defining industry trends of our time. We are extremely keen to establish Baha Mar as a 'China- and Asia-friendly' destination in close collaboration with our many hospitality, governmental and strategic partners active in the region."
Baha Mar, scheduled to open in December 2014, is set on 3,000 feet of white sand beach. The Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, with 1,000 rooms, is the centerpiece of the resort, and includes a 100,000-square-foot Las Vegas-style casino - the largest in the Caribbean region. A 700-room Grand Hyatt, a 700-room Melia? hotel, a 300-room Mondrian and a 200-room Rosewood hotel are also part of the resort.
Amenities will include an 18-hole, 72-par championship Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course; 200,000 square feet of combined state-of-the-art convention facilities including a 2,000-seat performing arts center and an art gallery; more than 30 restaurants, nightclubs and bars; two spas, including the 30,000-square-foot destination ESPA at Baha Mar; designer retail boutiques; a beachfront sanctuary with native Bahamian flora and fauna; 14 distinctive pool experiences and a private island.
An attorney for the Bimini Blue Coalition (BBC) said Friday that Resorts World Bimini (RWB) should struggle to persuade the Bahamian courts that it should be allowed to "rely" on the new permit which it provided to the Privy Council as the correct and appropriately obtained evidence of its ability to dredge.
In the wake of a decision by the Privy Council in London to grant an injunction halting the dredging off Bimini, Fred Smith, Queen's Counsel (Q.C.), said that the developers will now be in the position of trying to persuade a Bahamian court that the permit they showed in court for the first time on Friday morning, before the Privy Council in London, was issued properly and provides the legal basis for them to move ahead.
RWB had previously argued in a lower court that the permit, which was granted a week after the dredging started, was unnecessary, as the process is governed by another law.
In an interview with Guardian Business on Friday, following the Privy Council's decision to grant the injunction until such time as RWB and the government can prove that their approvals were properly obtained, Smith said: "Now it is going to be very difficult for either of them to go back to the Court of Appeal with a straight face and say that they did not mislead the Court of Appeal when they said they didn't need a permit under the Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of The Bahamas Act (CPPLB Act), when as counsel for the Bimini Blue Coalition I was on my feet arguing at the Privy Council they sought to get around such a challenge by producing such (a permit obtained under the CPPLB act).
"They convinced the Court of Appeal 2-1 that the (CPPLB) act had no application to marine variance, and yet in the Privy Council they completely reversed their position and sought to avoid the injunction by producing the permit.
He added: "They cannot be allowed to say one thing to one court and another thing to another court. It is completely unprincipled on their part, and quite frankly I am shocked that they would pull such a ruse at the hearing."
After two short hearings on Thursday and Friday last week, three days after the Court of Appeal in Nassau rejected the BBC's application for an injunction of the Bimini dredging, judges at the Privy Council approved the injunction.
In a statement, Resorts World Bimini said it would "temporarily" halt the dredging activity, which is part of its North Bimini Ferry Terminal project, set to make way for the docking of the company's cruise ship bringing passengers from Miami to Bimini for the day.
However, a spokesperson, Heather Krasnow, said the company is of the view that it has all that is necessary to be able to lift the injunction "expeditiously". A hearing on lifting the injunction is anticipated to take place in court today.
In an interview on Friday, Larry Glinton, President of the Bahamas National Trust, welcomed the injunction ruling.
"What it does is it provides a pause to the madness that's been going on this week, and it really is madness. It causes everybody to stop and assess the situation properly and thoroughly," said Glinton.
Eric Carey, Executive Director of the BNT, said that it appeared that Resorts World Bimini's "rush" to complete the project had seen environmental management efforts suffer.
"They're so rushed to go ahead that obviously they didn't put in place proper environmental protocols, and so in their rush to get things started, siltation started pouring out," he said.
Neal Watson, president of the Bahamas Diving Association and operator of the Bimini Scuba Center at the Bimini Sands Resort on the island, said he was "over-the-moon thrilled" by the decision.
"When I heard the news, I just absolutely couldn't believe it. It's just wonderful, wonderful news for Bimini and for the environment."
Watson said that it appears that with the ferry project and its potential to damage the world famous reefs for which Bimini is known, the island may trade high-value diving visitors, who spend "anywhere between $1,500 and $2,500 a week" to dive in Bimini, spread among a variety of businesses - hotels, dive centers, restaurants and more - for "$69 day trippers, who will come and buy a couple of beers and a conch salad."
The dive expert said he has already seen the downside of the dredging on the marine environment since it began a week and a half ago.
"I'm not a marine engineer. I'm not a marine biologist. I'm a diver that's been diving in Bimini for 40 years, and I know when I take a group of 15 or 20 to dive in these spectacular pristine waters that Bimini is known for and I take them to one of my favorite spots and I can't see the bottom there is a problem. This is already what is happening."
Smith called the injunction decision a "watershed moment for The Bahamas. It is a signal to the government that you must respect the local people."
"The Bimini Blue Coalition is ecstatic that the rule of law has prevailed."
Smith reiterated that the Bimini Blue Coalition is not against development.
"It is simply about demanding a place at the table to discuss development and the future of Bimini's community."
Last week, amidst heightened concern over plumes of siltation spreading from the dredging site toward Bimini's reefs, it was confirmed that Earl Deveaux is the environmental compliance manager for Resorts World Bimini and the ferry terminal project.
Contacted on Friday for a response to concerns raised about possible "breaches" of environmental best practices at the site by the Bahamas National Trust and the Bimini Blue Coalition, among others, Deveaux said "no comment."
Attorney for Resorts World Bimini in The Bahamas, John Wilson of McKinney Bancroft and Hughes, also declined to comment at this time when contacted by Guardian Business about the injunction decision on Friday.
New Providence is set to become a culinary mecca when the inaugural Minority Chef Summit rolls into town.
The four-day event, May 1-4 will showcase the talents and creativity of some of the leading minority professionals in the food and beverage industry worldwide.
Taking place at The College of The Bahamas, the summit will include an array of seminars, hands-on classes and competitions, as well as a culinary market. The conference will allow culinarians to come together to network, educate and to support the minority culinary community.
The Minority Chef Summit was founded by chef and chocolatier, Erika Davis, who formerly served as creative director for Graycliff Chocolatier in Nassau, and who is a highly-celebrated chef within the culinary field. Chef Erika has been in the chocolate-making industry for over 22 years, and recognized as one of the United States' top chefs. She has received many note-worthy commendations, among which include: Competing Chef 'Top Chef Just Desserts' inaugural show by Bravo; First Black female chef to receive Detroit's Chef of the Month; Showcased in several culinary magazines and invitational culinary events; Featured chef of 'Sunday Dinner' promotion with Publix Grocery Stores and Chocolatier Ambassador of Cocoa Barry Chocolates.
Chef Erika's time spent in New Providence working with and teaching aspiring Bahamian chefs lies at the heart of her inspiration for creating the Minority Chef Summit.
"This is a unique opportunity to come together, recognizing not only our individual craft, but the true excellence of our culinary community," she said.
The 2014 Minority Chef Summit keynote speaker will be Chef Jeff Henderson, an award-winning chef, public speaker and author of the New York Times best seller 'Cooked'.
Additional featured culinary artists include:
Chef Asha Gomez, owner/chef of Cardamom Hill Restaurant and Third Space in Atlanta, GA. Cardamom Hill was a 2013 James Beard nominee for Best New Restaurant.
Chef Jerome Brown, a celebrity private chef whose clientele include Shaquille O'Neal, Colin Powell and Priscilla Presley, to name a few. Chef Brown also has his own TV show, 'Cooking with Rome'.
Chef Guy Wong, owner/chef of Miso Izakaya, who was recently named one of Atlanta's 2012 Rising Stars.
Chef Ron Duprat, a fierce competitor on season six of Bravo's 'Top Chef.' Chef Duprat is author of "My Journey of Cooking" and is affiliated with organizations that contribute and give back to the community and people around the world, including United States First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative.
Chef Keith Rhodes, voted Wilmington, NC's Best Chef for three consecutive years.
Chef Hugh Sinclair, executive chef and owner of Irie Spice personal catering in South Florida.
Chef Bryant Terry, eco-chef, food justice activist, and author. Terry was a 2008-2010 Food and Society Policy Fellow, a national Program of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Chef Dana Herbert, owner of Desserts by Dana and winner of TLC's 'Cake Boss Next Great Baker'.
Chef Kenny Gilbert, executive chef of Plainfield Country Club and contestant on season seven of Bravo's 'Top Chef'.
Chef Nedal Mardini, chef de cuisine of Matthews Restaurant in Jacksonville.
Chef Thierry Delourneaux, executive pastry chef at Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford in Singapore.
Chef farmer, Matthew Raiford, a sixth generation farmer behind Gilliard Farms and executive chef of Little St. Simons Island a private resort located off the coast of Georgia.
Chef Dwight Evans, who was recently awarded Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation.
Chef Duane Nutter, chef at One Flew South, voted one of the best airport restaurants; as well as mixologists, Tiffanie Barriere and Tokiwa Sears, from One Flew South.