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Bahamian commercial banks collectively wrote-off $45 million in loans during the first four months of 2011, data published yesterday by the Central Bank of the Bahamas revealed, with industry loan loss provisions hitting $284.7 million.
The Central Bank's monthly report on economic developments for April showed that the commercial banks increased loan loss provisions by $11.3 million during that month, increasing their ratio to total credit arrears and non-performing loans to 24.3 per cent and 42.1 per cent, respectively.
The banking industry write-off a further $12.7 million in delinquent loans during April, bringing this total to $45 million. ...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Accused bank robber James Miller is $5,000 richer after a judge ordered that money seized from him shortly after a heist at the Bank of The Bahamas in 2003 be given back.Presiding judge Roy Jones made the order yesterday for the return of the funds after directing a jury to acquit Miller and his three co-accused of the charges at the close of the prosecution's case.
Prosecutors alleged that Miller, Dwayne Henderson, Sean Lightbourne and Jamal Armbrister were responsible for the holdup at the East Bay Street branch of the bank shortly before it opened on January 27, 2003.
The culprits made off with $25,000 after they ordered two tellers to hand over the money at gunpoint. The men were accused of the armed robbery and conspiracy to commit the crime.
Miller alone was accused of receiving $5,380 that formed part of the stolen money. Police alleged that they saw Miller jettisoning the money from his pockets while in the Sea Breeze Canal.
However, Justice Jones agreed with a no case to answer submission made by defense lawyer Murrio Ducille, who represented Henderson and Lightbourne.
Candice McPhee, for Miller, and Perry Albury, for Armbrister, adopted Ducille's arguments that the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence to support its case.
Henderson and Lightbourne were on bail during the trial. However, Armbrister and Miller remain in custody on other charges.
Kristan Forbes and Aaron Johnson prosecuted.
Top banking leaders have submitted recommendations for the Borrowers' Protection Bill and more consultation is expected before legislation finds its way into the House of Assembly.
Kevin Teslyk, managing director at Scotiabank (Bahamas) Limited, said the key piece of legislation is under "active development". As exclusively revealed by Guardian Business in August, the Borrowers' Protection Bill would provide the Supreme Court with significant powers to rule on mortgage loans.
Most notably, under the original bill the court can grant relief to the borrower from consequences of a breach of covenant or the non-payment or interest of a loan, placing private institutions on potentially unsteady financial footing.
Teslyk confirmed that other stakeholders, such as the Bahamas Bar Association, are also reviewing the legislation for final consideration to government. Not only is the banking sector seeking certain amendments, but also the possible formation of a specific board to be their voice in the legal forum.
Noting that it is important to have "experience at that table", the Scotiabank executive said dedicated individuals are needed so these matters do not get "wrapped up in other matters in the courts".
Teslyk spoke candidly on the real concerns within the banking community regarding the Borrowers' Protection Bill.
"There are two fundamental areas of concern. The first is the time to process, table and make an application to hear and decide on a particular situation. Given the number of mortgages experiencing stress, that could create some pretty daunting duties. So that is a concern or all of us," he said.
The second is the language embedded within the bill. Under the original draft, it is unclear just how much power and control the courts could hold over loans. Teslyk said it doesn't give "clarity of purpose to an industry or organization going forward".
Turning to the homeowner market in general terms, Scotiabank (Bahamas) expressed a very similar outlook to other institutions, namely that the poor economy and unemployment are unlikely to change anytime soon.
What has been required is a "very frank discussion" with clients and indeed a "change in lifestyle" for some Bahamians. Meanwhile, he acknowledged that there is essentially "no market" for new homeowners, as a new sense of reality settles in.
The institution is looking at a number of new initiatives in 2013 to help new and existing homeowners deal with expenses and debt obligations. One idea is the creation of a special escrow account specifically to service insurance payments. This service, working with the insurance provider, would be bundled into mortgage payments, placing less stress on homeowners.
Teslyk told Guardian Business that the bank is also interested in salary deduction solutions, whereby a pre-organized arrangement is set up between the borrower and the employer.
Combined with the formation of a credit bureau in 2013, the managing director said The Bahamas' rough experience as a result of the financial crisis has a silver lining, in the sense it is forcing institutions and consumers to reevaluate best practice for a more stable economy.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Bahamians will be able to access free HIV testing in Rawson Square this Friday through a partnership between Scotiabank and the Ministry of Health in observation of Regional HIV Testing Day 2011. This initiative is a part of a regional program organized by the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership (CBMP) who will host testing events at Scotiabank branches in fourteen countries across the Caribbean. HIV Testing Day takes place on Friday, June 24 at Rawson Square north from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"Scotiabank is pleased to partner with Ministry of Health and the National AIDS Programme to help heighten public interest in HIV testing," said Leah R. Davis, Senior Manager Marketing & Public Relations, Scotiabank. "Supporting the growing program is part our ongoing commitment to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas." She stressed, "We are relying on the participation of community leaders to demonstrate the importance of being tested, knowing your status in order to join the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS."
Regional Testing Day has expanded from its pilot program three years ago. In 2008, the CBMP on HIV/AIDS and Scotiabank in collaboration with regional Ministries of Health piloted the Caribbean's first Regional HIV Testing Day in Barbados. This year, the first for The Bahamas, it is expected that 10,000 people will be tested across the region, improving on slightly more than 8,400 persons recorded in 2010 and approximately 5,000 in 2009.
By ALISON LOWE
The Government and Central Bank of the Bahamas are "wimpy and pathetic" when it comes to protecting consumers, a former Chamber of Commerce president has charged, suggesting "there may be an effort" on the part of commercial banks "to hide" loan terms that, in some cases, leave people paying back more than double what they borrow.
Superwash president, Dionisio D'Aguilar, made this comment as he urged the Government to do more to "provide incentives" to banks to "go towards mortgages and commercial loans", which support the "productive" sectors of the economy, rather than leaning toward ...
Arawak Port Development (APD) Limited's CEO is questioning The Bahamas' latest ranking in the World Bank's 2014 Ease of Doing Business report, claiming that it fails to provide a true assessment of the country's capabilities and competitiveness.
Michael Maura Jr., head of the company which was formed in 2009 to develop, operate and maintain Nassau's main port, noted that the report could negatively impact the country's reputation as it inaccurately paints the country's port facility as "inefficient".
Yesterday, he expressed particular concern with the section of the report that focused on trading across borders, which noted that The Bahamas has dropped five spots from 67 to 72 in the rankings.
Ninety-five percent of the shipping containers handled at the Nassau Container Port are imports.
According to the widely-read World Bank report, released in October, once a container arrives in Nassau, it takes an average of 13 days for the goods to get to the importer.
Maura emphatically denied this to be true, saying "that just does not happen".
"I could not understand how they came up with their figures and where they got their information from," he said during a press conference at APD's offices at Arawak Cay.
"For the person that knows what they're doing, they can honestly get the cargo off the dock and through Customs in 36 hours. And for the person that is semi-focused on it, it shouldn't take more than three days."
The APD chief revealed that significant delays occur either when bills of lading are not aligned with invoices or if someone does not have the cash flow to pay the import duty.
"If you have a situation where a bill of lading says 'building materials' and the invoice says 'F-150', that does not align. That would cause a delay because Customs would want to do an inspection," according to Maura.
"But when someone is prepared to receive that cargo, they've paid their duties and it's a clean entry in that their bill of lading is said to contain 'building materials' and their invoice says 'doors, nails, joint compound', they align and that's a clean entry."
The report specifically compares The Bahamas with Barbados, comparing the cost of importing a 20-foot FCL (full container load), dry, non-hazardous container at the Nassau Container Port and Barbados Port Inc.
While The Bahamas ranked 72 out of 189 countries in the trading across borders section of the World Bank report, Barbados ranked 30. The report states a cost to import in US dollars, in The Bahamas, of $1,770 in comparison to Barbados that charges $1,615.
Going forward, Maura is encouraging the government to include APD in its research and information that is presented to the World Bank to ensure that the bank's information is "relevant and factual".
"We are far better than what we are being portrayed to be," he added.
"A truer assessment of The Bahamas' trading across borders capability will positively influence consumer and investor confidence in the market."
Overall, The Bahamas ranks 84th in the Ease of Doing Business report.
Valued at $1.03 billion, assets in private pension plans shrank by 1.8 percent over the four-year period to 2011 following the global economic crisis, while those sectors with foreign investments as part of their investment mix demonstrated evidence of a "flight to safety," according to a new report from The Central Bank of The Bahamas.
However, yearly pension payouts increased by 18.8 percent of assets or $6.7 million, to $59.3 million by year-end 2011. This figure was boosted by the privatization of Bahamas Telecomunications Company (BTC) and the separation packages offered.
A recent Central Bank of The Bahamas report points to private individual's deposits as still the largest source of savings in 2011, at an estimated average of $3.37 billion, or growing by 2.8 percent to 44.2 percent of GDP by year-end 2011.
However, the report notes that with most of these accounts - over 75 percent - containing less than $10,000 this form of savings was "less of a retirement safeguard".
According to the data, private pension plans were held by 29.2 percent of the labor force, or 47,879 people, in 2011 - a "slight gain" from 2008.
Hotels and restaurants employed the majority of private pension plan participants, at 79.6 percent of participants or 38,120 in 2011. The financial sector comprised 9.6 percent of private pension plan holders, while the communications and utilities sectors comprised 4.5 percent of the total.
Defined contribution pension plans continue to be the most popular and growing form of pension scheme in The Bahamas, comprising 82.9 percent of plans in 2011. Such plans provide benefits based on the accumulation of defined up-front savings contributions over an employee's working years.
However, a "few large institutions" - primarily public corporations - used defined benefit programs, which guarantee the payment of specified benefits at retirement based on tenure and level of earnings.
Of the 47,879 people with private pension plans in 2011, 4,460 were pensioners receiving benefits, with the largest number of new retirees in the tourism and communications and utilities sectors.
This data is contained in a new report from The Central Bank of The Bahamas on private pension plans between the years 2008 and 2011, the latest data available. The report is based on a survey sent to just over 140 existing and potential plan sponsors in The Bahamas during those years, which garnered a 55 percent and 49 percent response rate in 2008/2009 and 2010/2011 respectively.
This information comes as the domestic pension fund industry remains unregulated. The central bank pointed to government plans to change this in its report, stating that such legislation "should ensure that these products are operating and being administered in accordance with international norms and best practices".
Parliamentarians began debate in January 2013 on legislation intended to regulate the sector. The Employees Pension Fund Protection Bill is intended to strengthen the supervisory framework, and increase the level of portability of plans by outlining rules regarding the establishment, administration and transferability of such plans.Officials at the Cabinet Office confirmed yesterday that despite having been debated, the bill is currently in the committee phase, awaiting further comments before being ready for the third reading and passing. At this point, the legislation would go to the Senate to be debated before finally being put into law. There is at present no date set for the bill to undergo the next step of the approval process.
Assets in private pension funds are significant, averaging $1.04 billion or 13.2 percent of GDP between 2008 and 2011. By comparison, National Insurance Board (NIB) savings averaged 19.1 percent of GDP over the period. Invested assets of credit unions, meanwhile, accounted for a smaller share of savings at 3.4 percent of GDP. However, it was credit union assets which grew most over the period, by six percent.
In terms of investment strategy, the bulk of pension assets are invested in public sector securities, mutual funds and bank deposits. By sector, communications and public utilities are primarily invested in government bonds, although this shrank to 47 percent from 51 percent in 2008.
Meanwhile, the assets of the financial sector are concentrated in mutual funds (40 percent), followed by government securities (29 percent). For plans in the tourism sector, the largest share of assets are in equities (50 per cent), followed by government bonds (26 percent).
"An analysis of the distribution of assets by instrument type showed that as the economic recession intensified, pension fund managers reallocated their portfolios in favor of more conservative investments. As a consequence, holdings of government bonds increased from 32.6 percent in 2008 to 38.6 percent by end-2011," said the central bank.
Most pension schemes continue to hold the majority of their investments locally, with only the financial and hotel and restaurant sectors having foreign investments as part of their portfolios. The proportion of external investments as a part of their portfolios, however, were reduced from average highs of 30.4 percent and 18.5 percent to 7.4 percent and 18.3 percent respectively, "reflecting a flight to safety amid the financial crisis," according to the central bank.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
MORE than 11 years after Mohammed Harajchi's Suisse Security Bank & Trust was put under court supervision, its depositors and creditors have yet to recover a single cent, and are still staring at a collective $19.217 million "potential loss".
The main reason they continue to face such a sizeable 'black hole' is because the liquidator has still been unable to recover the $17.717 million that the Harajchis and the bank's management team spirited out of the Bahamas in the days immediately following the Central Bank of the Bahamas' decision to suspend, then revoke, Suisse Security's licence.
Raymond Winder, managing p ...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bahamian commercial banks want to see another "two to three months" similar to February 2011's $67.2 million loan arrears reduction to develop a "strong trend", Tribune Business was told yesterday, as total credit past due dropped to $1.131 billion.
Barry Malcolm, Scotiabank (Bahamas) managing director, commenting on Central Bank of the Bahamas data that showed the total percentage of past due loans had dropped from 19.1 per cent of total credit outstanding (some $6.461 billion) to 18.2 per cent, said the "welcome" drop had resulted from an improved economy and intensive work with borrowers to restructure loans.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
BAHAMAS-based web shop boss, Craig Flowers, along with BISX-listed Bank of the Bahamas International, were both separately approached to rescue a bust Turks & Caicos bank that required a $27 million injection to recapitalise it, Tribune Business can reveal.
The involvement of Mr Flowers, a well-known businessman and head of the FML Group of Companies, was disclosed in a report to the Turks & Caicos Islands' courts by the Bahamian liquidators for TCI Bank, Anthony Kikivarakis and Mark Munnings, the Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas) partners and accountants.
The report, obtained by Tribune Business, said that "the following persons/entities we ...
With just three commercial mortgage commitments for new construction projects in the entire Bahamas in the first nine months of this year, valued at $417,000, the head of a prominent local construction company yesterday claimed that there is "absolutely no local investment" in construction in The Bahamas anymore, and mortgages for commercial construction in particular appear to have "fallen by the wayside".
"The construction industry is completely disintegrated and defunct," said the contractor, who declined to speak on the record.
His comments are reflected in newly-released statistics from The Central Bank of The Bahamas which show that in the four years from 2009 to 2012, there were 47 percent fewer commercial mortgage commitments for new construction than in 2008 alone, in which 123 such commitments were made for a value of $28.8 million.
In value, the mortgage commitments over this four-year period from 2009 to 2012 - which numbered 66 in total - were valued at $14.8 million.
Of the three commercial mortgage commitments for new construction in the first nine months of 2013, two were disbursed in the first quarter, one in the second, while none came to fruition in the third quarter, indicating a gradual slowing of this already moribund sector across the year.
A similar story can be seen in the area of residential construction-related mortgage commitments. Having amounted to 1,304 in number in 2006 ($136.9 million), residential mortgage commitments for new construction fell by 15 per cent to 1,109 in 2009 ($119 million), and by 13.5 per cent to 959 in 2010 ($86,5 million), falling again by 21 per cent to 756 in 2011 ($75.2 million), and by 46 per cent to 405 in 2012 ($43.15 million).
According to the central bank statistics in the Quarterly Statistical Digest for November 2013, the first three quarters of 2013 saw 278 mortgage commitments for residential construction ($34 million).
The figures were gathered from insurance companies, commercial banks, the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation and other local financial institutions.
"There are some high-end construction projects going on in some of the gated communities which don't reflect mortgage requirements or financing requirements, and which generally involve foreign contractors and management teams, but from what I can see there is absolutely no local Bahamian investment at all. There are no new office buildings, no extensions going on, no expansion of anything local," said the contractor of the current environment in the construction sector.
Where there is some activity, suggested the businessman, it has related to the contraction of businesses, not growth.
"There is a contraction of overseas banks and businesses. As various offshore businesses contract they need to have their offices made smaller, so you take a 5,000-square-foot area and reduce it to 2,500, but what it does is it leaves half of that particular space unrented."
The contractor said it appears commercial bank lending for construction activity appears to be "over".
"It's history. Commercial mortgages may have gone by the wayside."
Significant projects in 2012, such as the completion of the Nassau Container Port and some of the Baha Mar works related to the movement of commercial buildings along West Bay Street, have now come to an end.
The top contractor's comments shed some light on the high and growing unemployment levels in the economy, given the significant contribution traditionally made by construction to the employment of Bahamians.
Asked what he would suggest could be done to spur more construction activity in 2014, the contractor was pessimistic, at first declaring that "nothing can be done" given the government's commitment to appeasing institutions such as the international credit ratings agencies, the IMF and others, in order to avoid further credit downgrades.
Such commitments involve fiscal consolidation which would rule out significant additional capital expenditure, for example.
"The only thing that I think will stir this into action is unfortunately foreign investment and if the government can do anything at all, it would be simply to try to spur foreign investment. If that happens then maybe some local contractors will get some work, and something is spurred on by something happening.
"It could also help a bit by getting the local contractors association registered, which would then have some impetus to help distribute the work a bit better. The government cannot demand a multimillionaire investor gives contracts to Joe Schmo."
The Contractor's Bill would ensure the licensing, regulation and control of the construction industry, helping qualified contractors prove that they can perform at a given standard.
The bill has been in the works for several years.
In July, President of the Bahamian Contractors Association Godfrey Forbes called on the government to limit the number of foreign contractors participating in the high-end real estate construction sector, suggesting that until this happens The Bahamas will be "spinning its wheels" economically, not gaining as much as it might from attracting foreign direct investment.
He also suggested that the passage of the Contractors Bill would assist in cutting down on the level of foreign participation in the industry. In July he said some issues were still being ironed out in regards to the scope of the bill, but that it was hoped it could move forward within weeks.
Guardian Business was unable to ascertain the status of the bill yesterday; it has yet to be tabled in Parliament.
Proposed changes to the management of large exposures are on the way, with the Central Bank of The Bahamas focusing on staying aligned with global standards.
A review of the proposed changes has already been completed, and the Central Bank intends to issue revised guidelines. One of the suggested modifications is the provision of a level of responsibility for the boards of directors of banks.
"The purpose of the review was to strengthen and clarify the guidance, where necessary, and to ensure that The Bahamas' rules remain consistent with international best practices in this area," according to a draft of the proposed changes. "The revisions to the guidelines primarily seek to ...
Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) has completed the "test phase" of its highly anticipated e-commerce program, and now seeks to develop a marketing plan to make it safe and effective for the Bahamian marketplace.
Paul McWeeney, the managing director at BOB, said his staff needs to be "fully aware" of the initiative before it becomes a reality.
He told Guardian Business that the institution has received considerable interest in the lead up to the launch, but first, education is crucial.
"I think we need to educate the public on how it works," McWeeney said. "All of those persons who deal with PayPal, they should become automatic customers. And I think the interest generally will be very positive."
Former advisor to the Ministry of Finance and e-commerce expert Rowena Bethel said the "potential is enormous". But as the program slowly comes to fruition, she said it is "the responsibility of the government" to ensure Bahamians have access to and understand the power of the Internet.
In fact, Bethel said the government has a responsibility to partner with the private sector in order for persons to take effective advantage of e-commerce, and to be aware of the various legalities which exist among jurisdictions in the online world.
"There has to be a strong refocus on what the government can do to ready society to take advantage of this. Ensuring people are connected in affordable ways and are exposed to training and education to make it practical is crucial," she explained. "Over and above BOB, there are issues to take into account when you move to an online presence. There are legal issues, because your audience is not limited to a physical environment."
Bethel, fresh off a global information technology conference in Geneva, said many of the nations in the developing world, such as those in the Middle East, are making considerable strides and seizing opportunities online.
E-commerce would indeed provide Bahamians with an unprecedented global reach, he said, and open up markets throughout the country.
The Chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation I. Chester Cooper echoed many of these sentiments, saying "making The Bahamas less of a cash-based society makes good sense, and frankly creates less incentive for criminal-minded individuals".
McWeeney has expressed his intention to roll out the e-commerce program with participation from BCCEC.
Cooper said e-commerce will create more efficiency in the business world and improve the ability of small businesses to contain overhead costs.
"Retail banking is perhaps many years behind the adoption of banking technology and standards available in other markets. The overall retail banking system is behind the 'normal', on its charges, processes and general adoption of e-commerce. The time it takes and the enormity of the paperwork for simple transactions leaves much to be desired," Cooper told Guardian Business.
An old favorite in the Bahamian marketplace has been given a modern spin.
Ezminutes.com, a business recently launched by Nekia Brice, is tapping into the lesser-known e-commerce sector. And so far, the approach appears to be working. To date, more than 10,000 phone cards have been sold online as a result of Ezminutes.com.
Brice told Guardian Business that Ezminutes.com allows anyone from anywhere in the world to instantly purchase a phone card, using any internet-enabled device.
She said the company has already begun to lead the way in The Bahamas' e-commerce industry.
"We are at the dawn of the internet age here, in order for businesses to be able to compete in the future they would need to incorporate internet technology or be left with no business at all," according to Brice.
"With The Bahamas being an offshore jurisdiction for financial services, it is prime for an e-commerce boom in the near future. We want businesses to know that yes it is possible to obtain a Bahamian merchant account for accepting credit cards online. Once setup, the funds are cleared in a local bank account.
"Ezminutes.com is a Bahamian online small business which operates solely through e-commerce. We have proven it is possible and we hope to inspire others."
She pointed out that Ezminutes.com is optimized for easy navigation and few clicks from any mobile device, tablet or computer. Customers receive the pins on the website instantly once a purchase is complete. Purchases can be made using any visa or master, debit or credit card.
Brice revealed to Guardian Business due to the company's local success, plans are underway to expand to other countries. She hopes to launch a similar service in the UK by the end of 2012.
Once completed, customers will also be able to purchase UK top up vouchers for all major mobile providers, including T-Mobile, Vodafone, 02, Orange and Three.
Brice said this service will primarily target customers in the UK and anyone outside of the UK who wishes to keep their UK prepaid mobile number active.
Ezminutes.com is a product of Websoft E-Business Solutions, which provides consulting and development of online businesses in The Bahamas and throughout the world.
Brice's success comes as manager of e-commerce at MWF Group Bahamas, Damien Forsythe, recently told Guardian Business that the country is still missing out on a golden opportunity to cash in on the e-commerce sector.
Forsythe encouraged banks to provide more merchant services, as it would not only help local businesses grow but also help the overall economy by embracing this sector.
"I don't know if they are aware of the potential of those types of services," he said.
"They have really held back local businesses that want to sell online domestically and internationally. I think the banks are not thinking about it and have not been forced to think about it," he shared.
Bank of The Bahamas announced in February that it plans to launch a formal e-commerce program in the coming months.
Thursday 27th March 2014 10:00 AM
The Central Bank of The Bahamas presents The Annual Counterfeit Banknote Detection Seminar. When: Thursday, March 27, 2014 Where: The Central Bank of The Bahamas Training Room, Market Street and Trinity Place Entrance Time: 10:00am-11:00am (for Bankers and law enforcement) 12:00 noon-1:00pm (for general public) Apply by: March 25, 2014 As space is limited we wish to urge persons to confirm their attendance by contacting representative of the Banking Department of The Central Bank of The Bahamas at telephone numbers: 302-2629/302-2622.
Nassau, Bahamas - Colina
Insurance Limited is pleased once again to welcome Scotiabank as a Presidential
Partner in the 19th Annual Red Ribbon Ball in support of The Bahamas AIDS
Senior Manager, Marketing, Product and Public Relations and Jim Wilson, Vice
President Corporate & Commercial Banking at Scotia recently met with
members of the Red Ribbon Ball Committee to present them with the bank's
Two financial experts said The Bahamas won't be impacted by Cyprus' financial crisis, but the country should monitor the situation closely. Eurozone finance ministers agreed yesterday to a $10 billion euro bailout for Cyprus in an effort to prevent the collapse of its banking system and keep the country in the...
Scotiabank Bahamas recently joined hands with The Bahamas AIDS Foundation
in hosting the 2011 Red Ribbon Ball. Hosted under the theme, 'I am Accepted,'
the Ball is the Foundation's single largest fund-raising initiative, now
in its seventeenth year. An annual supporter of the AIDS Foundation, Scotiabank
was an Executive Corporate Partner to this year's gala.
The Bank is a
dedicated partner to worldwide efforts at the local, regional, national
and international levels to reduce new HIV infections and minimize the
impact of the illness...
Nassau, New Providence - Bank of The Bahamas Trust and Private Banking will host an information-packed breakfast September 13 to discuss a host of financial
services including private banking rights and benefits, pension fund
arrangements and standard trusts as well as those specially created for
the Bahamian corporate and individual market.
DESPITE reassurances by the Christie Cabinet that Bank of the Bahamas (BOB) customers have no reason for concern, the FNM is questioning if the government has intentionally mislead Bahamians on the institution's lending practices...
"Home Sweet Home", an art exhibition featuring watercolor paintings and architectural models by Nastassia Pratt, opened Thursday, June 20, 6-8 p.m. at Popopstudios. For more information, visitwww.popopstudios.com or call 322-7834 or 552-0412.
The Bahamas Sailing Association presents "Sea, Wind, Sail", an art exhibition to aid the Bahamas National Sailing School, on Saturday, June 22, 5-8 p.m. at Palm Cay. Featured artists include Thierry Lamare, Malcolm Ray, Toby Lunn, Jonathon Bethel, John Cox and K. Smith. Tickets are $10. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Life on my island", original patterns and paintings by Fash|Art 2012 Jackson Burnside III Visual Artist Competition Winner Attila Feszt, continues at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery. For more information, visit http://www.doongalik.com/.
"Design", new works by Lemero Wright, continues at The Ladder Gallery, New Providence Community Centre, Blake Road. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/TheLadderGallery or telephone 327-1660. This exhibition will be open until June 28.
"Beg, Borrow, Steal", new work by Bahama Woodstarr, continues at Liquid Courage Gallery in Palmdale.
"Form Versus Function: Contemporary Art Quilts", featuring five artists and quilters, opened Monday, May 20 at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. This exhibition closes on Tuesday, June 25. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email email@example.com or call 328-5800/1.
"Artisan", featuring work by Jan Elliott, Jenny Guy and Muck Guy, continues at the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery. Admission is free.
"The John Beadle Project", new work by John Beadle, continues at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 328-5800/1.
"Master Artists of The Bahamas" continues at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Featured Artists are John Beadle, Jackson Burnside, Stan Burnside, John Cox, Amos Ferguson, Kendal Hanna, Brent Malone, Eddie Minnis, Antonius Roberts, Dave Smith and Max Taylor. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email email@example.com or call 328-5800/1.
"SINGLESEX", an all-female portrait show depicting only female subjects, continues at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. NAGB Curator John Cox says it is meant to stand in dialogue with the "Master Artists of The Bahamas" exhibition (later this year), which has no female representation. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 328-5800/1.
The Permanent Exhibition of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, displaying pieces under the theme "The Bahamian Landscape", continues this week at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Gallery hours: Tue. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Sun. noon - 4 p.m. Admission $5 adults; $3 students/seniors; children under 12 are free. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email email@example.com or call 328-5800/1.
The Meah Foundation's Music Festival takes place Saturday, June 22, 7-11 p.m. at Van Breugel's Restaurant on Charlotte Street. The event is expected to feature the bands Quartz, John Christie and the Floating Boats and the Rum Dums. The event is also in support of the Down Syndrome Association of The Bahamas and the Bahamas Humane Society. Tickets available at Van Breugel's, The Meridian School, Windermere, Traditions, New Providence Community Center and Liquid Nutrition. For more information, visit www.themeahfoundation.org.
Workshops and Summer Camps "Remembering Ourselves: Healing Our Colonial Legacy", a Gaulin Project retreat presented by Helen Klonaris, takes place Saturday, June 29 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Participants can expect creative writing to explore their cultural and personal stories about our shared colonial legacy; silent contemplation to tap into challenging feelings; active imagining to touch into their wisdom; a safe and compassionate space in which to explore issues of race, colonization and community and sacred witness. To register, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. The suggested retreat fee is $75; however, no one will be turned away for lack of funds. The retreat will take place in Nassau at a location to be announced shortly!
Bahamas Music Conservatory will hold its Summer Music Camp from July 1 to July 26 at the Duke Errol Strachan Music Centre on Village Road. The camp is geared toward young musicians ages eight to 18 and offered instruments are piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, tuba, viola, cello and double bass. The cost of the workshop is $600. For more information, visitwww.bahamasmusicconservatory.com.
Bahamas FilmInvest International will host the 5th Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase from Monday, June 3 to Tuesday, June 25 at Galleria Cinemas. This year's showcase will feature 29 feature films, documentaries, animations and children's films, with a special tribute being paid to the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence.
Islandz, having acquired Downtown Art Tours, offers its Islandz Gallery Hop tours, examining art spaces downtown on Saturdays. Tickets are $20 per person for the two-hour tour. For more information or to book tickets, call 601-7592 or visit Islandz online at www.islandzmarket.com.
Tru Bahamian food tours offers a "Bites of Nassau" food tasting and cultural walking tour to connect people with authentic local food items, stories and traditions behind the foods and the Bahamians that prepare and preserve them, through a hands-on, interactive, educational tour and culinary adventure. Tickets are $69 per person, $49 for children under 12. Tours are everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., starting at the British Colonial Hilton and ending at Tortuga Rum Cake Company. For more information, visit www.trubahamianfoodtours.com.
Call for works
Scotiabank invites all amateur photographers to participate in its Everything Bahamian Calendar Photo Contest. They are looking for candid representations of "Everything Bahamian" - outstanding and captivating, original digital images depicting the diversity, distinction and beauty of The Bahama Islands, its natural resources and the traditions, lifestyle and culture of its people. Images may be taken anywhere in The Bahamas. The official contest rules and entry forms are available at all Scotiabank locations or may be downloaded from www.bahamas.scotiabank.com/photocontest. Entry deadline is Friday, July 19.
The 10th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival invites filmmakers from around the worls to submit their narratives, documentaries, worls cinema, short films, animation and family films. This year's festival takes place December 5-13 on New Providence and Eleuthera. The deadline is July 17. For more information, visit http://bintlfilmfest.com.
The 30th Annual Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Competition and Exhibition invites entries for its Open Category under the theme "The Independents", in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence, which is being celebrated this year. The objectives of the competition are to identify, recognize and encourage Bahamian visual artists. To qualify, participants must be citizens of The Bahamas, aged 18 or older (as of October 1, 2013) and not registered in secondary school. The Open/Senior Category Competition and Exhibition component will be held from Tuesday, October 1 to Friday, November 1. Artists under 30 years are especially encouraged to embrace this opportunity of the theme of "The Independents" as a challenge in terms of material and/or the role and responsibilities of independent thinking in art in The Bahamas, as well as, thinking of the larger political symbolism of independence of the country.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Scotiabank Bahamas donated ten thousand dollars to Special Olympics Bahamas to send Team Bahamas to The Special Olympics World Summer Games 2011 in Athens, Greece.
Scotiabank (Bahamas) Limited Managing Director Kevin Teslyk said The Bahamas needs its medium to long-term revenues to "exceed and outpace" expenses in order to ensure sustainability.
The banking executive's comments to Guardian Business come after Moody's Investors Service pointed out in one of its economic outlooks that three bond restructurings totaling $9.7 billion in the Caribbean this year are failing to ignite economic growth and may not help the region avoid more defaults.
"I think the overarching view is that whether you are an individual consumer, small business, corporate commercial enterprise or a sovereign government one needs to live within your means. You need to ensure sustainability in the medium to long-term and revenues exceed and outpace expenses," he said.
According to the Moody's report, the average debt for a Caribbean nation compared to the size of its economy stands at 70 percent.
Teslyk noted The Bahamas' debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios are quite a bit less at approximately 50 percent and is mostly local currency debt as opposed to foreign currency debt, unlike other countries in the region.
"It is nowhere near the same level. Most of the government's debt, between 77 and 80 percent, is in fact local currency debt so that we don't have the same implications as you have in making payments to foreign investors and the potential for foreign defaults. The Bahamas and some other countries in our region like Barbados for example have relatively small foreign currency debt loads," he explained.
"There are other countries in the region that have debt to GDPs that are already in excess of 100 percent. Jamaica was listed as being one of those as well as Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda."
He also pointed out to Guardian Business that the country incurred hefty expenses within the last five years due to major infrastructure works taking place mostly in New Providence.
"You are always going to have those times of growth and redevelopment or investment in infrastructure, which has very much been the case in The Bahamas with the airport development, the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP), the Baha Mar project amongst others which are large, one-time investments that will always mean that the expenses in the short-term are going to outpace the revenues. Those have to be the exceptions and not the norms," Teslyk revealed.
He further added that The Bahamas' market is very liquid, as there has been more of an emphasis on saving than spending.
"The local industry here in The Bahamas as everyone knows is very liquid. There's lots of surplus liquidity with businesses among the banks. We're in savings mode as opposed to spending mode so those liquidity levels are likely going to increase so in terms of funds to finance government's ongoing business, they've got the ability to rather easily finance debt loads through the local marketplace, which doesn't fit the same degree of challenges or strain on a country as foreign debt loads do," Teslyk confirmed.
Retired top banker Al Jarrett is challenging a recent Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBB) assertion that inflationary pressure on the economy has been "benign", charging that current data tells a different story.
Jarrett is saying the CBB must be relying on stale data, as the most recent numbers out of the Department of Statistics are painting a more troubling picture of the year-on-year growth in consumer prices. The CBB's governor, Wendy Craigg, was reported to have said that inflation was not a concern for the Bahamian economy, estimating it would come in at just over two percent for the year.
"I'm using the current trend and inflation is not benign if it increased to 3.5 percent this year," Jarrett said. "[The Governor's] number of 2.1 percent is way off the mark. I do see inflation as a concern."
In the CBB's August 2011 MEFD, inflationary pressures were described as being "relatively benign, although impacted by the recent firming in global oil prices".
The report cited inflation for the twelve months to June firmed by 0.9 points to 2.1 percent.
According to the Department of Statistics, the annual percentage change in The Bahamas all items index was 3.9 percent for July. For January through July, the rate has increased each month, the percentage growth coming in at 2.1, 2.4, 3.0, 3.1, 3.5 and 3.6 for consecutive months from January through June.
Inflation is on an upward trajectory with nothing likely to alter its direction before the end of the year, according to Jarrett. Higher oil and gas prices, along with increases in margin allowances to petroleum retailers, will tend to worsen the true impact of inflation on the economy, according to Jarrett.
Data for the retired banker's analysis covers up to September, he said. The $0.10 and $0.15 increases in gas and diesel to retail distributors did not come into effect until this month.
The impact of that inflation on the budget ended June 2011 will be to "wipe-out" any growth there, he said, along with current growth projections of one to two percent. For economists and statisticians, inflation is used to adjust the performance of gross domestic product from one period to the next. It gives a context to understand how the economy is really expanding or contracting. In the case of a salary, as the cost of living rises, an individual gets less bang for his buck. The same principle applies on a national level.
But Jarrett was complimentary of what he described as a more "realistic and somber" position taken by Craigg, as reported last week.
He agreed with the negative implications for GDP growth drawn from the weak U.S. economy, itself struggling to achieve a meaningful recovery and substantial job growth. Likewise, he agreed that the strong foreign currency reserves held by the Central Bank heading into the Christmas Season signaled poor consumer demand. Merchants are not triggering major draws on the foreign currency position because consumers are not spending, due in large part to high unemployment, he said.
The former Bahamas Electricity Corporation chairman, however, was more pessimistic about when there would be a broad economic and employment recovery than Craigg's reported estimate of up to two years.
"There is nothing in the economy now that is going to cause any turn-around in two years," Jarrett said.
He estimated two-and-a-half years, or sometime in early 2014, is a more realistic timeframe for broad recovery.
A serious challenge to any meaningful interpretation of the data has been the absence of key reports and information, however. In the case of tourism arrival data, for example, Jarrett said he was "extremely disappointed" that they have not been made available for any period since April 2011.
Guardian Business has been pursuing those numbers for several weeks. On Thursday afternoon, a Ministry of Tourism manager told Guardian Business they would likely be released late today for the period up to the end of August.
Similarly, Jarrett said he was still waiting for the results of the first quarter of the government's fiscal year to do some "hard analysis". He said he expected that the lack of both sets of data suggested poor tourism sector and government budgetary performance.
The data, whenever released, will be the judge of that, but Jarrett said the key was that the Bahamian public has been deprived of the benefit of that information. He commended the Department of Statistics for their 'openness and cooperativeness' in supplying data.
Nassau, Bahamas -
Scotiabank has again joined forces with Sunshine Insurance's Race
Weekend as a Corporate Partner of the annual event inclusive of Marathon
Bahamas and the Susan G. Komen Bahamas Race for the Cure. As a Gold
Partner, Scotiabank has made a sizeable contribution to support this
event which directly benefits the fight against cancer in The Bahamas.
The event-filled weekend is taking place this weekend, January 19 - 20,
Scotiabank's Manager of Sponsorships, Indira Rolle,
announced a new component this year event, "We are excited that through a
partnership with the Ministry of Education and Rotary International,
Scotiabank will this year sponsor a student...
Local financial institutions are receptive to the new risk assessment framework being introduced by the Central Bank of The Bahamas, with the governor of the bank saying she is encouraged by the responses.
Wendy Craigg told Guardian Business that the recent Risk-Based Supervision Framework (RBSF) seminars were a success and were "extremely useful" in terms of identifying the various risks that local firms face.
PRIME Minister Perry Christie's bid to assist embattled tax consultant Ishmael Lightbourne has not threatened the integrity of the banking industry, according to RBC Bahamas managing director Nathaniel Beneby...