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News Article
Construction sector 'defunct'

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.

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News Article
Agency wins award for bank brochure

The creative work performed on a private banking brochure for Bank of the Bahamas International (BOB) has received international accolades from the American and Caribbean Advertising Federations. The agencies behind the design - Diane Phillips & Associates in conjunction with marketing company Electric Villages - took home a 2011 Silver ADDY Award at this year's advertising competition.

"I think the true winner of an award like this is our client," said Diane Phillips. "We're proud to have been a part of this success and to be recognised for our work at this level, which speaks to the talent and dedication of our team. DP&A would also like to thank BOB for giving us the ...

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News Article
Arts Calendar

Exhibitions
"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 bsajrsailing@gmail.com.

"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 info@nagb.org.bs 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 info@nagb.org.bs 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 info@nagb.org.bs 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 info@nagb.org.bs 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 info@nagb.org.bs or call 328-5800/1.

Music
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 thegaulinproject@gmail.com. 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.

Film
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.

Tours
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.

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News Article
Web shop owner in 27m bank rescue

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 ...

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News Article
Scotiabank partners with Bahamas Football Association to host FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifier

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Scotiabank has joined forces with the Bahamas Football Association as the country plays host to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifier, marking the first time that a World Cup Qualifier will take place in the Caribbean. The Games begin at the Beach Soccer facility on East Bay Street on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at noon and continue through Sunday, May 12, 2013.
Recognizing the significance of this international sporting event, Scotiabank, Senior Manager of Marketing & PR, Leah R. Davis, presented a sponsorship cheque to the Bahamas Football Association as the country bids to move on to the World Cup in Tahiti in September 2013. "This is an amazing opportunity for The Bahamas, both for the promotion of the sport of beach soccer and for the sport tourism opportunities it presents," explained Ms. Davis.
"Scotiabank is an active participant in the community that we serve and are excited to be a part of such a positive national event. We wish Team Bahamas, and the other ten countries that will be participating this week, safe competition and the very best of luck!"
Pictured are Leah R. Davis, Senior Manager of Marketing & PR, Scotiabank; Frederick Lunn, General Secretary, Bahamas Football Association; Anton Sealey, President, Bahamas Football Association.

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News Article
Central Bank: Q1 tourism arrivals rose 10.8

The Bahamian economy is showing signs of life in the first quarter, but it could take some time before that sentiment is felt on the ground.
According to the latest report from The Central Bank of The Bahamas, tourism numbers are showing encouraging gains.

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News Article
BFSB Reveals 2012 Award Nominees
BFSB Reveals 2012 Award Nominees

The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) is celebrating the 12th anniversary of its Industry Excellence Awards Programme at a Gala Awards Banquet on Friday, November 9.

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News Article
E-commerce pioneer launches Ezminutes.com

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.

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Event
Annual Counterfeit Banknote Detection Seminar

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.


News Article
Risk-rating framework required for Central Bank licensees

Licensees of The Central Bank of The Bahamas will now be required to have a risk–rating framework, a system that will meticulously evaluate the liabilities clients pose to financial institutions.
It’s one of the requirements set by The Central Bank as outlined in the document ‘Guidelines for Licensees on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism’.
“Every licensee is required to develop and implement a risk-rating framework which is approved by its board of directors as being appropriate for the type of products offered by the licensee, and capable of assessing the level of potential risk each client relationship pose ...

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News Article
Central Bank to issue revised guidelines on lage exposures

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 ...

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News Article
Scotiabank signs on as a Presidential Partner in Colina's 19th Annual Red Ribbon Ball

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
Foundation.

Leah Davis,
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
contribution...

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News Article
Governor: Rate cutto 'support recovery'

The Central Bank of the Bahamas' governor yesterday dismissed speculation that the timing of yesterday's 75 basis point Discount Rate reduction was linked in any way to the upcoming general election, adding that the move would make it easier for more Bahamians to access credit and "support the economic recovery".

Wendy Craigg said she foresees the lowering of the Discount Rate by the Central Bank - the interest rate applied to money lent by the Central Bank to domestic banks it licenses - will create a lending environment providing more opportunities for Bahamian-owned businesses to "be a part of the spin-off" ef ...

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News Article
Financial leaders monitor Cyprus bailout

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...

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News Article
Banks seek 'strong trend' after 67.2m arrears drop

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.

"Cert ...

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News Article
FORMER RND BANKS 25K CASH MONTHLY

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

The chairman of recently renamed RND Holdings yesterday said the company was banking net cash flow of $25,000 per month after restructuring its debt and finding a new majority partner, adding that it might generate "a little more" than last year's $348,867 net income in 2011.

Speaking ahead of the-now Colina Real Estate Fund's annual general meeting (AGM) on October 26, Jerome Fitzgerald said that by bringing in Colina as majority shareholder and having them pay out the $2.904 million debt owed to FirstCaribbean International Bank (Bahamas), the company had completed its "turnaround from a cash flow standpoint".

He added that ...

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News Article
BOB To Host Private Banking, Bahamian Pensions Trusts Breakfast

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.

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News Article
PM's intervention 'has not harmed integrity of banking industry'
PM's intervention 'has not harmed integrity of banking industry'

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...

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News Article
'More aggressive' bank stance boost for dealers

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

Bahamas Motor Dealers Association (BMDA) members yesterday said they were hopeful that improved buyer traffic and quality at the weekend's Car Show will translate into increased sales in the coming weeks, with commercial banks seemingly "more aggressive" on writing loans.

Rick Lowe, operations manager at Nassau Motor Company (NMC), the Honda, Chevrolet and Cadillac dealer, told Tribune Business: "Our sales consultants felt that the buyers, or the people interested in buying, were there, and it remains to be seen how it plays out. They felt more positive this year than last.

"The banks were more aggressive, so hopefully we'll ...

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News Article
Govt reassurance over bank - but FNM raise questions

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...

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News Article
Concerted fiscal action called for by Central Bank

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

The Central Bank of the Bahamas has effectively said that only a concerted medium to long-term effort by the Government, on both the revenue and spending fronts, will "significantly improve" the fiscal deficit and national debt situations, despite a 25.2 per cent reduction in the former to end-March 2011.

Although the fiscal deficit for the first nine months of the 2010-2011 fiscal year was down by $63.9 million at $189.9 million, the Central Bank's latest monthly economic and financial development report for March showed the improvement was driven "by [the] nearly two-fold rise" in non-import Stamp duties to $202.4 million ...

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News Article
Governance and the government

Many may recall the scandalous fall from grace by a number of multilateral companies a few years ago. Notable among these were Enron and Worldcom in the U.S. and Parmalat in Italy.
Fraudulent behavior at the highest levels of those companies resulted in massive losses to stakeholders followed by a renewed and expanded interest in regulatory oversight by governments around the globe.
In an attempt to prevent a similar recurrence in future, national, regional and international regulatory bodies introduced a series of laws, rules and regulations which required corporations and indeed regulatory bodies themselves, to subscribe to a clear and concise set of guidelines regarding the day-to-day conduct of commercial operations.
In the last decade the United States, the United Kingdom and the OECD countries established a set of general principles to be adopted by all companies to ensure that proper corporate governance structures and procedures are in place at all times.
Those principles addressed matters regarding respect for the rights of shareholders, increased transparency and open and timely communications to stakeholders on anything affecting the company.
It is also expected that companies recognize that they have legal, contractual and social obligations to non-stakeholders and to the community in which they operate.
An emphasis was placed on disclosure and transparency issues with particular reference to explaining to the public the role and responsibilities of the Board of Directors and management.
As regards the board of directors, it was the expectation that the individuals on the board would possess the relevant skills and qualifications to not only understand the operations of the company but also to challenge management if the need so arises.
Above all, a fundamental requirement of the new corporate governance guidelines was a code of conduct based on integrity and ethical behavior for directors and executives to ensure responsible decision-making capability on the part of the organization.
Good corporate governance standards have been adopted worldwide and here in The Bahamas, the financial services regulators in particular (Central Bank of The Bahamas, Securities Commission of The Bahamas, Insurance Commission of The Bahamas and the Registrar's Office) have been in the forefront of implementing governance practices in the local financial services industry.
The Central Bank has been especially vigilant in ensuring that its licensees adopt the highest corporate governance standards inclusive of appointments to the boards of directors.
The boards have a pivotal role in governance in that they have the responsibility for overseeing the organization's strategy and policy direction as well as weighing-in on senior staff appointments and salary levels, and ensuring the institutions' accountability to the shareholders, regulators and the wider community.
To that end, our regulators ensure that the boards have sufficient directors with the requisite qualifications and relevant experience to sit on various sub-committees (audit, management, risk and compliance, loans, assets and liabilities). Care is also taken to ensure that a number of the directors are independent and that their terms of appointment are staggered to ensure continuity.
It could be successfully argued that our regulators' renewed emphasis on good corporate governance has instilled a sense of confidence in the financial services sector by both local and foreign investors.
Ironically, if one examines the structures of and many of the appointments to the government's boards (Central Bank, Bank of The Bahamas, Bahamas Development Bank, Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, Bahamas Electricity Corporation, National Insurance Board to name a few) it is patently clear that those organizations are exempted from the international standards of corporate governance which are imposed on local private institutions.
That omission might very well explain, in part, some of the problems with efficiency, transparency and in some cases, profitability being experienced in the public sector institutions.
It appears that it would greatly serve the public interest to introduce a similar set of corporate governance guidelines to the public sector as those being imposed on the private sector.

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News Article
Jarrett challenges CB findings

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.

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News Article
Scotiabank sends Team Bahamas to the Special Olympics World Games

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.

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Scotiabank Supports Red Ribbon Ball 2010

NASSAU, BAHAMAS

-
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...

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News Article
Scotiabank joins the fight against cancer - Partners with Marathon Bahamas

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,
2012.

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...

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News Article
Good Response To Central Bank Risk Assessment Workshop

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.

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News Article
Bank 'adopts' primary schools
Bank 'adopts' primary schools

BOB (Bank of The Bahamas Limited) made going back to school a little easier this year for hundreds of children and parents throughout the country...

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News Article
Central Bank on Risk-based Supervision Framework

The Central Bank of The Bahamas has provided an update on the status of its Risk-based Supervision Framework (RBSF) in its quarterly letter to senior officials, released last Friday.

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News Article
BOB launches national drive to support Olympic relay team

With the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics less than two weeks away, Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) announced the launch of a national drive to raise funds for the men's 4x400-meter (m) relay team, kicking off the campaign with a $10,000 donation and urging the public to keep the contributions flowing.
"There's a good chance that every one of us remembers exactly where we were and how we felt when we watched or heard of the 'Golden Girls' becoming number one, winning gold in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney," said BOB Deputy Managing Director Hubert Edwards. "We all felt so much national pride that you would have thought we had run the race ourselves. Now we have an outstanding team in the men's 4x400m relay event and we want to send them off to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics with the knowledge that The Bahamas is rooting for them and cheering them on with national spirit, energy and enthusiasm."
Starting with the bank's donation of $10,000, BOB branches throughout the country will build the men's relay team account number 284899 by accepting cash or check donations at all bank branches or by phoning the BOB Credit Card Centre at 396-6010.
"Our athletes have worked so hard just to get to this point. When you consider the sacrifices they make in their personal and social lives, the hours of strenuous training, the dedication it takes and the commitment they make, their accomplishments reaching the Olympic team status warrants all the support we as a nation can give them, so when they get to London and they are out there on that track they know they are not running alone. They have a whole team of Bahamians running with them in spirit," said Edwards.
Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) 1st Vice President Shervin Stuart, thanked BOB and said recipients would be named as soon as the final relay pool members were determined by the relay coordinator and coaching staff.
"When we first approached BOB, we were only seeking a cash donation," said Stuart. "They sent a sponsorship review team out to the track to meet with the BAAA, and when they came back and proposed a national drive plus their $10,000 donation, we were overwhelmed by their generosity and enthusiasm. It gave us all, including the athletes, such a positive feeling, and it's a fitting match, the national, award-winning bank with what we hope will be a national medal-winning team."
Donations may be made through close of business on Friday, July 27. Team members in London will find additional funds added to the VISA cards they are sent with.

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