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In tough economic times, when many businesses are tightening their belts, investing $80,000 in a pizza oven might not be top of the agenda for local restaurants.
Enrico Garzaroli, however, thinks differently.
Perched on a high stool, he gazes from the bar into an open kitchen on the other side of the room. Amid tables adorned with colorful tablecloths, the head of Graycliff admires what he calls "the latest invention from Italy".
An Italian chef lords over Garzaroli's pride and joy, which is the new centerpiece of Humidor Piazza, the culinary hub of West Hill Street.
"The economy is what it is," he said, requesting a can of tomatoes, also imported from Italy.
"When you speak with people in this industry, everyone is getting laid off. Everyone is closing. I want to give the people something they will enjoy."
Garzaroli dips a finger into the can of imported tomatoes, admiring the deep red color. He releases a tomato and licks his fingers.
"I want to give them something fun," he adds.
The concept behind the new Humidor Piazza, now open, is part of a much greater expansion to this West Hill Street development. Out back, the sound of construction is clearly audible as crews prepare the location's next attraction - a beer garden.
Nestled amid stone, greenery and running water, the Graycliff chief said he has recently signed an agreement to bring in beers from Belgium and Germany to stock the garden. A similar agreement has been made with Commonwealth Brewery Limited, the makers of Heineken and Kalik.
He further revealed that "we have been in discussions" to add a possible microbrewery to the street to make the destination even more unique.
The philosophy, according to Garzaroli, is to never stop moving and innovating during a difficult economy. Indeed, there is plenty now cooking at Graycliff as it prepares to unleash the much-anticipated Heritage Village.
As first revealed by Guardian Business, the $25 million Heritage Village project is slated to include a number of unique, interactive elements.
Just off the Humidor Piazza, work on the upcoming Chocolate Factory is in full swing, with a projected opening date of sometime in August or September. Back in July, Guardian Business also described plans to bring an Androsia factory to the development.
Located in the building across from the restaurant, in the old convent, the traditional batik fabric, produced on Andros for decades, will be given a modern twist.
"We're going to set up an auxiliary factory in Heritage Village. We'll renovate the building," said Paolo Garzaroli, the president of Graycliff. "You'll be able to come in and make your own piece of clothing, and take it with you later that day."
The chocolate factory, he said, works in a similar fashion, whereby families receive an education on the production process, take part, and receive the fruits of their labors at the end of the tour.
It's a concept that has the major cruise lines licking their lips, according to executives at Graycliff. Negotiations with the cruise lines, and in particular family-friendly Disney, are ongoing, although they are expected to truly come to fruition once the attractions are functional.
The Graycliff president noted that Heritage Village will hire up to 50 Bahamians between the two factories. Heritage Village is designed to function independently of the downtown straw market and provide an authentic cultural experience for Nassau's tourists.
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?"
On Saturday, October 29, the Bahamas National Trust will open its gates for the 21st Annual Wine and Art Festival. The annual festival features over 50 talented artists, a selection of over 50 wines from Bristol Wines and Spirits and a new feature this year, a wine and food pairing area sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism's Culinary Tourism Division.
BNT members will get a special preview of the art and a chance to bid on unique marine-themed silent auction items at the Wishing Fish Auction on Friday evening, October 28. This special evening for BNT members is sponsored by Gourmet Market and Food Art By Cacique and Bristol Wines and Spirits.
"We are extremely grateful to our sponsors," says Eric Carey, BNT executive director. "Their support allows us to show our appreciation for our members at this special evening. The Wishing Fish Auction provides artists with the opportunity to design and decorate wooden fish in their own unique style. All proceeds from the auction will be used in support of the BNT's marine conservation initiatives."
"The Wine and Art Festival provides Bristol Wines and Spirits with a great opportunity to introduce the public to new wines that we will be offering this holiday season," comments Rusty Scates, wine manager for Bristol Wines and Spirits.
Patrons attending the festival this year will have an opportunity to taste Asti Winery's Cellar's range of eight wines with the Chardonnay and Zinfindel being featured, Pine and Post Wines from Washington State featuring a Reisling and Merlot and Flip Flop Wines from California offering their Chardonnay and Carbernet Sauvignon.
One of the special features of the Wine and Art Festival is special guests from the participating wineries. This year Julian Inarra from the Trivento
Winery in Argentina will be on hand to discuss the wines produced by his winery.
A new feature at this year's Wine and Art Festival will be a food and wine pairing demonstration sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism's Culinary Tourism Division. Featuring three of the finest chefs in The Bahamas who are all members of the Bahamas Culinary Association, the area will help you learn what wine should be served with what dish.
Jamal Small, Team Captain of the National Culinary Team 2011 and Private Chef in the Exuma Cays, will feature a Cassava Gnocchi with roasted root vegetables in a fennel cream sauce. Emmanuel Gibson, National Culinary Team from the One & Only Ocean Club, will demonstrate a fish dish - plantain-crusted grouper. Alexandra Maillis Lynch of Alexandra's Catering and August Moon will guide attendees through the process of roasting a pig in plantain leaf. Local produce will be featured in each recipe in conjunction with BAIC, and all ingredients will be locally grown, inclusive of the grouper and the pig.
A number of well-known caterers and restaurants will be providing food throughout the day, such as Gourmet Markets and Food Art by Cacique, August Moon Café, Konfetti Kreations, Glorious Foods, Citrus Catering and a special booth featuring Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream.
"We are once again thrilled to have many outstanding artists participating in the Festival," says Lynn Gape, deputy executive director of the BNT.
New artists participating this year are Judith Papillon, Tori Hermann, Kandice Eldon, Candis Marshall, Morgan McKinney, and Shelby Knowles.
We also have a large contingent from Abaco traveling to be with us this year," says Gape. "We are very happy to have Kim Rody, Jo-ann and Peter Bradley, Marjolein Scott, Jeep Beyers and Bob Zwickel joining us again this year."
Annual favorites will also be participating and patrons will have a chance to visit with Thierry Lamare, Jonathon Bethel, Toby Lunn, John Paul, Trevor Tucker, Marco Mullings, Nicole Angelica, Malcolm Rae, Kim Smith, Tiffany Barrett, Peter Otim Angole and Imogene Walkine.
According to Lynn Gape, the festival began 21 years ago with just 20 artists and each year it has grown. Today, the festival features over 50 artists and is a great place to see a variety of artistic styles. Many media are represented and not surprisingly the Bahamian environment is the subject of many of the paintings.
The BNT's Wine and Art Festival is a great event to learn about wine and view wonderful art, so be sure to attend this very special event on Saturday, October 29, 12 noon to 6 p.m. at The Retreat on Village Road. BNT members pay $15 and the general public $20. All proceeds support the national park system of The Bahamas.
Contact Lynn Gape at firstname.lastname@example.org or 393-1317 for more information.
The government has set July 1, 2014 as the date for the biggest change to the Bahamian tax system in recent memory. It plans to bring forward a value-added tax (VAT), to create a central revenue service and to cut many customs duty rates.
To inform the people of what will take place the government has published a white paper on VAT that is available for all to see on its website. The government has also pledged a significant public relations campaign to help educate the Bahamian people on the proposed new tax.
The government will have challenges with this education effort. In its white paper, it admits that VAT is one of the more complicated taxes. It involves multi level taxation up the chain of production and distribution and it also includes rebates for some.
The Bahamas has challenges with education. The public school system in New Providence has an average in the national exams somewhere not too far from an F. The technical language of the white paper is inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of our population.
Sweeping tax reform requires the understanding and consent of the people. If the people think something they don't understand is being forced on them, and it leads to a higher cost of living, the political party that did the deed will pay at the polls. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration should know this.
While one challenge for the administration will simply be breaking VAT down for regular Bahamians to understand, there are some fundamental questions that will be asked by those who do understand. These are questions the white paper does not answer.
It remains unclear how the imposition of VAT will impact the cost of goods and services across the board.
In fact, the white paper acknowledges that the government is unable at this time to indicate comprehensively either way.
"The effect of VAT on prices will vary as between goods and services and, within the goods category, the effect will depend on the current taxation of individual goods.
The final impact on the price of goods will depend on the extent of reductions in import tariff rates flowing from accession to the WTO," according to the white paper.
The government attempts to reassure the public by saying that agricultural, food and certain other products that currently benefit from duty free status under the Tariff Act will also be exempt from VAT.
"Similarly, the services also proposed to be exempt from VAT, such as health and education services, etc., should experience no direct change in price under a VAT system," the white paper adds.
However, Bahamians will simply want to know how much more expensive items at the grocery store will be as a result of this proposed change. How much more expensive will clothing and electronics be? Is there a tax for using the already expensive services of lawyers? Will there be a 15 percent tax at restaurants on top of the 15 percent charged for gratuity?
To answer some of these questions, the government would have to announce its full range of cuts to customs duties. Other answers may be so unacceptable to the people that the government may have to alter its position.
When the official education campaign begins, business owners and professionals will have many questions for the government and its representatives, as will concerned citizens who can understand the magnitude of the change. It is necessary for the government to ensure that it works out the answers to the obvious questions Bahamians will ask before it starts the talking and education tour.
Prime Minister Perry Christie led the government's communications effort on gambling. He was not well versed on the subject. He confused the issue and said things that were contradictory. The people noticed and rejected the referendum - an initiative the governing party hoped Bahamians would support.
Government bureaucrats and the PLP should not just assume Bahamians will accept VAT because international advisory agencies said we should try it. The people have to think it is better for them and the country. They know little of the details of this move now. If this tax reform is to succeed they must know more and agree to it by the implementation date.
"The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance, which envelop our future."- John Maynard Keynes
In part one of the "Nation for Sale" series, we questioned whether The Bahamas has become a nation for sale to the highest or best positioned foreign bidders. In part two, we considered the legacies of our prime ministers, past and present, to determine whether by their policies regarding foreign investors, we have been and continue to be a nation for sale. This week, we would like to Consider This... do we need to urgently adopt a modern, progressive investment policy for the 21st century if we are going to finally realize the dream of empowering Bahamians in a more meaningful way?
The anchor project template
In his first term as prime minister, Perry Christie accentuated the benefits of his government's anchor project policy. The plan was to have a substantial investment, anchored on each major island of The Bahamas with the tripartite objective of (1) expanding the economic activity on that island, (2) encouraging residents to stay there instead of migrating to islands where greater employment opportunities existed and (3) encouraging persons who had left their island to return because of the jobs and other economic prospects that would be created by such anchor projects.
The government felt that anchor projects could be achieved by offering foreign investors large tracts of Crown land for which, in some cases, the government would receive an equity position in the project. The thinking was that the government would provide the land for the investment, and the foreign investor would offer shares to the government. The application of this policy would conceptually present a mutually beneficial result, and, in the fullness of time, there would be cumulative benefits to our citizens. Few would challenge the rationale of such a policy, but there were some unanswered questions.
A more progressive variant of this approach would entail a government policy that ensures that the residents of the island on which the anchor project is situated receive concessions for the ancillary Bahamian-owned enterprises that will inevitably flow from such anchor projects. Hence, local entrepreneurs would know that the government policy would ensure that the businesses related to the primary investment, including transportation, watersports, artists and artisans, restaurants, night clubs, laundry facilities and other related services that would spin off from the primary investment, would be available only to them. It is not enough for a government to focus only on the primary anchor investor; it is equally important to engage urban planners, architects, environmentalists and others to ensure that a holistic approach to development is undertaken from start to finish.
Another enticement to foreign investors is the granting of concessions by the government, usually in the form of financial benefits, including, for example, a tax holiday for a certain period of time. Perhaps the "mother of all concessions" was that granted to the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which to this day is the beneficiary of enormous tax and other advantages. Similarly, the hundreds of millions of dollars granted to Kerzner International were as breathtaking as they were mind-boggling for a company that landed on our shores only with the promise of raising the sunken city of Atlantis from the ashes of a dated, lackluster and tired property that had changed ownership several times in a single decade.
The granting of concessions is a practical tool used by governments the world over as an inducement to foreign investment. However, the larger consideration is whether the country is really getting value for the concessions that it bestows on foreign investors and, if so, to what extent? The answer to the question is that we really don't know.
The reality of this approach is that the foreign investor wins coming and going. They benefit by having considerable taxes waived, often for lengthy periods of time, with the justification that they create jobs, which is a noble objective. But they also win by not being required to pay any taxes when they repatriate the profits that they earn in The Bahamas.
If we are going to be more discerning in our approach to foreign direct investment, we need to be able to better quantify the benefits that accrue to the country before we offer and grant concessions to such investors. The simplistic and politically expedient approach to obtaining jobs in return for concessions is no longer enough. While this template might have worked in the past, this model fosters a country of servile workers who own little or nothing, who are not empowered through ownership and whose only benefit is a salary at the end of the week or month. In addition, it is long overdue to seriously consider imposing a withholding tax on repatriated profits that are earned here. Otherwise, the investor benefits both ways, at our expense.
Just as we openly welcome foreign investors here, we should consider what kind of concessions would enhance our own citizens' chances for success, and we should grant them to those Bahamian enterprises that satisfy certain threshold parameters.
The long-term development needs of our country
It becomes increasingly obvious and immediately important that we need to have a long-term plan for our country. It is imprudent for successive governments to approach governance of a small country such as ours without more clearly defined and generally agreed upon approaches to national goals and objectives, such as what we want The Bahamas to be and a time frame for achieving those objectives. It is virtually impossible to grow our country in the short term without a clearly defined long-term horizon as to the nature of investments that will benefit our country.
Every Bahamian is an investor
We often hear about the plethora of consultants who are constantly hired by the government, often where there are qualified Bahamians to perform contracted assignments. We need a renewed commitment to Bahamianization regarding consultants engaged by the government. Bahamians are alienated and disconnected from their government for several legitimate reasons, one of which is the absence of a deliberate determination to ensure that, wherever possible, Bahamians are provided the first opportunity to participate in the engagements that successive governments hasten to distribute to foreign consultants - another symptom of a nation for sale.
Furthermore, if the government is thinking about privatizing our national assets, Bahamians should be afforded the first opportunity to invest in such privatization exercises, and be seriously considered for the opportunities that we love to bestow on foreigners - yet another clear example of selling our patrimony.
Therefore, when foreign investors come knocking at our doors, an enlightened and progressive government would advise that such investors are expected to either (1) find Bahamian business partners with whom to invest or (2) offer shares in their enterprises to the Bahamian public, or even better, both of the above. Other countries do it. Why shouldn't we?
The time has come for our political leaders to understand that they will be judged not only by the jobs that they create, but now also by the Bahamian owners in our economy who they facilitate. Bahamians are tired of successive governments giving away our land and economic opportunities to foreigners, at our expense. If we do not radically alter our thinking about ownership and greater participation in our economy, we will be thrown back into a new form of slavery, once again being nothing more than servile workers whose patrimony has been pillaged and whose bodies and minds have been enslaved.
Properly formulated and adeptly executed, Christie's legacy could entail an administration whose primary objective is one of Bahamian economic empowerment. It is now time for a reversal of a policy, which for too long has had at its core a subliminal message that we are a nation for sale. It is now time for the establishment of an economic culture that is inclusive and beneficial to all who call The Bahamas home and who wish to build our nation for generations yet unborn.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to email@example.com
BIMINI, The Bahamas -- The official opening of the first phase of the new Port at Resorts World Bimini will be celebrated on Thursday, September 18th under the auspices of Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie and the Executive Chairman of Genting Group, Tan Sri KT Lim. The two esteemed leaders will participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony and welcome the inaugural guests from Fort Lauderdale disembarking from the Bimini SuperFast. In addition to cruises from Miami on Fridays to Sundays, Bimini SuperFast will be cruising from Fort Lauderdale on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays commencing on October 14, 2014.
Distinguished guests attending the event will include Government Ministers, Ministry of Tourism officials, members of the Bimini Local Government Town Council, invited Biminites and members of the news media.
Bimini Superfast will be hosting more than 400 travel agents, tour operators and South Florida hotel concierges from Fort Lauderdale for the day cruise to Bimini featuring a full day of activities and time to relax on the island's pristine beaches. The experience will enable them to better encourage their clients to discover the jewel that is Bimini. Passengers will be greeted in a traditional Bahamian style with a local Junkanoo rush out, a welcome rum punch cocktail and musical entertainment by Bimini's famed Prime Time Band.
The passengers will then be transported throughout the island via shuttle, as is typical during a regularly scheduled weekend cruise. This influx of hundreds of visitors to the island on a weekday will bring welcomed economic impact to Alice Town, including the Craft Market, conch shacks, bakeries and restaurants, giving business owners a taste of the benefits to come when Bimini SuperFast resumes service to the island throughout the week.
This week, artist Margot Bethel answers 20 Questions from Guardian Arts&Culture.
1. What's been your most inspirational moment in the last five years?
Working with a diverse group of local and foreign artists and supporters, ecologists, educators, thespians, musicians and kids while running The Hub. At the time, the space embodied a powerful surge of energy and excitement, joy and camaraderie. I don't remember ever feeling so alive.
2. What's your least favorite piece of artwork?
I don't have one.
3. What's your favorite period of art history?
As a young student interested in painting, I was most exposed to the Impressionist and Expressionist periods. Later as I learned more about design I became attracted to mid-century modernism.
4. What are your top 5 movies of all time?
I can't pick five out of them all, it's impossible. So are here five of my favorite comedies: The Life of Brian, Murial's Wedding, Moonstruck, Career Girls and Tootsie.
5. Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon. I'm bi-continental like that.
6. What book are you reading now?
I am dipping in and out of "The Art of Travel" and "The Power of Now".
7. What project are you working on now?
I am continuing to develop two ideas: one I began last year called "Who The Hell Do I Think I Am?". Recently we produced some notebooks with Sonia Farmer of Poinciana Paper Press under this theme. I am also working on my "Sonorotic" carvings - a project that is associated with sound-based work.
8. What's the last show that surprised you?
Since I've been hibernating I haven't seen much work lately, but I am blown away by the recent developments in the art scene in Nassau. The heightened activity is not so much surprising as inspiring.
9. Saxons, One Family, Valley Boys or Roots?
10. If you had to be stranded on one Family Island which one would it be?
Eleuthera. Over the past 30 years I've spent a considerable amount of time stranded there so I know of what I speak. Silos, caves, hills, stunning harbors and beaches - long meandering drives, starry skies and good restaurants. A well-balanced respite from the city.
11. What's the most memorable artwork you've ever seen?
Sonambient sound sculptures made and designed by Harry Bertoia and his son Val Bertoia. They look like unfettered harps or tall patches of tarnished brass-colored grass. Some of these gorgeously resonant art forms are over six feet tall - so elegant and majestic and made with exacting precision.
12. Which artist do you have a secret crush on?
It's a secret.
13. If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be?
My parents. I have a lot of unanswered questions.
14. Who do you think is the most important Bahamian in the country's history?
For me, that remains to be seen. I have great admiration for the people who fight for the rights of minorities; the health of the ecosystem and to save wild or domesticated animals. I think these are among the most important people in any nation.
15. Who is your favorite living artist?
Gosh these are such severe questions, how do you pick just one? But I do think that Peter Minshall is pure genius.
16. Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunset. Unless I stay up all night...in which case it's a tie.
17. What role does the artist have in society?
To be brave and honest.
18. What's your most embarrassing moment?
These days, it's every time I put on a bikini.
19. What wouldn't you do without?
A sense of humor.
20. What's your definition of beauty?
A cloud? A rock. Something simultaneously fleeting and eternal that captures my attention.
Four Bahamian students are making waves -- but it's not in academics or sports. The four students of Anatol Rodgers High School are instead making waves in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Brandon Brooks, Delnika Stuart, Christoff Hall and Lakeyia Adderley, four persons that took tourism and hospitality studies at Anatol Rodgers High School, traveled to Orlando, Florida for the eighth annual American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) National Lodging Management Program (LMP) Competition at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort where they were challenged to the real-life work experience in a hotel. The teams of students displayed their proficiency in three contests:
Hotel operations: Students applied their knowledge in a three-part challenge -- room inspections in which students has 10 minutes to find housekeeping cleaning errors in a typical guest room using an executive housekeeping checklist; night audit, in which teams performed financial calculations and manually posted front desk accounting information and case studies in food and beverage and sales and marketing in which students had 15 minutes to prepare solutions to case study scenarios.
The hospitality project: Teams demonstrated their knowledge, skills and abilities in event planning. They were given a scenario that included budget parameters, invitation design, banquet event order, menu and floor plan.
The knowledge bowl: Teams demonstrated their knowledge through a multi-round, question and answer Jeopardy-style quiz.
In all, 12 teams representing schools in Arkansas, The Bahamas, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, DC. and Wyoming participated in the LMP national educational program for high school juniors and seniors. When the final guest room had been checked for housekeeping errors, The Bahamian foursome placed seventh out of the 12 schools that participated. High school hospitality students from Okkodo High School in Guam took home the national title. Second place went to Lakeland High School (Idaho) with students from Mountain View Academy (New Hampshire) taking third spot.
The Bahamian team may not have won, but 17-year-old Lakeyia Adderley says what she liked most about the competition was the creative activities like the knowledge bowl, hospitality project, Jeopardy-style question and answer session and the room inspection.
"We may not have won, but it was great for us as a learning experience," said the tourism and hospitality studies student. "It was also a great chance to promote The Bahamas because there were kids at the competition that didn't even know about our country. I think it is great that we went and represented and saw just what is out there that can make us better in this field in the long run."
The twelfth grade student said, "I am really determined to be a part of this industry now, and I think I am more ready than ever."
Christoff Hall, 17, says prior to the competition he thought he had learnt a lot from the hospitality program, but realizes after the international competition that he's learnt even more.
"It felt good going to the competition especially since you had to be chosen out a lot of students who were really good in the program. We did a lot of fun things and it was amazing," said Hall, who is headboy at Anatol Rodgers school. "What I learnt the most from the new program itself is something I probably would've taken longer to learn had I done it any other way. For instance, although we are a nation dependent on tourism I didn't know much about it. I figured if I did the program I would learn more and see if this is a field I would like to enter and I did. I am now interested in being an executive manager in the tourism field."
Brandon Brooks has no regrets about joining the hospitality and management program, and participating in the international competition. The 17-year-old says the competition was one of the best things he has experienced.
"The program is about the world of tourism and what we can realistically expect should we enter the field. We learned so much in terms of etiquette, professionalism, customer care and management that really prepared us for the field. We went to different hotels and got first-hand experience and saw just how all the levels of the hotel staff operate. My eyes were really opened to the fact that the industry isn't confined to just hotels and restaurants. It is in almost every aspect of our society in which a service and personal interaction is involved. I learnt more than just theory. I got to go out there, meet people and do the work. It was great," said Brooks.
For graduating senior Delnika Stuart, 17, the competition "put the icing on the cake" for her as the program ended. Her biggest regret is that she did not take the program as seriously as she should have when she started out.
She says she now realizes that had she applied herself more and taken full advantage of the opportunities given to her from the start, she wouldn't have been challenged for the top student in the program. But what she has realized now that the program has ended for her as she leaves high school behind is that she is passionate about being a pastry chef and an entrepreneur. She hopes to use the techniques she learnt throughout the course and in the competition to build her own business in the future.
Anatol Rodgers' tourism studies teacher Janelle Cambridge, who traveled with the team to the competition, was proud of the students' accomplishments and hopes to see an increase in the number of Bahamian schools participating in the NLMP competition.
"I think the students did very well as this was their first time in the competition. I hope we go back and place in the top three next time."
She said for her it's not only about being able to go to the competition, but to see how much the students learn and experience. She realizes this will put them ahead of so many others because of the hospitality and management program that's the Ministry of Education initiative. In 2009, the Ministry of Education partnered with the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLE) to certify Bahamian hospitality teachers as instructors to teach the three curriculum. Since the certification, Anatol Rodgers High School is the only school to offer the hospitality and tourism studies as a full program.
"I believe that this program is better than the traditional tourism education or culinary arts programs in high schools now, because it allows students to do more programs than just BahamaHost which is essential in helping students learn interpersonal and problem solving skills and how to deal with customers," says Cambridge. "Students learn so much it is amazing. I do not know if the students would've done so well in the competition had they not been participants in this program and the depth it goes into."
She also said it is important to expose the students to competitions like the AHLEI competition to remind them that there are other countries out there with a tourism product, and as the future of the industry they need to keep on top of everything that is out there.
Cambridge says many people say tourism today is nothing like it was in the days of yesteryear when programs like BahamaHost were successful and entering the industry was an honorable profession and not just another job.
She says most people have had an experience where they didn't get the kind of service they thought they should have at a tourism-based establishment and often wonder just what went wrong in the training of the staff they met. Cambridge says implementing programs like tourism and hospitality studies (for) students while they are young and more pliable to set the right foundation is the best way to improve the quality of this vital industry.
She hopes more schools establish the whole program as a normal curriculum in the future because she has found great success and sees the potential it will have for the other students who may be interested in the field. In the first year, students interested in the program can expect to participate in the Junior Hotelier Program, a 10-week curriculum that allows students to explore the possibilities in careers in hospitality and meet industry professionals to learn firsthand about the industry.
Cambridge says this method is better than just reading about what is out there and having a guest speaker come in for one or two classes because it ends up being more engaging and important questions can be answered on the spot.
Students also participate in CaribCert, a regional certification program from the Caribbean Hotel Association that gets students to fully understand the core essentials of tourism industry including sustainable tourism, professionalism, health and safety, customer service and other things.
Senior students in the program will have completed the 320 hours in the full program inclusive of the 120-hour internship necessary to be certified in different tourism disciplines of their choosing such as rooms division specialists, food and beverage server, sales and marketing, maintenance employee and front desk employee.
By ALISON LOWE
Bahamian restaurant, bar and hospitality stakeholders should capitalise on global trends in food and beverages to increase visitor and local customer traffic/revenue, an international gastronomy and beverage consultant said yesterday.
Josué Merced-Reyes, president of InterEmarketing, a food, wine and beverage consulting firm, specialising in the Caribbean and Latin American hospitality industry, provided this advice as he gave insights into the current biggest "driving forces" behind consumers' choice of dinners, desserts and cocktails.
He urged Bahamian stakeholders - including chefs, restauranteurs, hotel food ...