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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.
The $1.3 million Scotiabank branch on Carmichael Road will feature a special Small Business Department to assist customers in one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Prime Minister Perry Christie and Central Bank Governor Wendy Craigg were on hand for the branch's official grand opening Wednesday night.
Artists and spectators alike crowded the Central Bank of The Bahamas Wednesday night to hear the announcement that Jackson Petit-Homme had been chosen by the judges as the winner of their 28th Annual Central Bank Art Competition in the Open Category.Petit-Homme is no stranger to the feeling -- he's walked away with recognition in both the high school and open categories before, winning the High School Category twice, coming second in the Open Category twice, and winning the 3D portion of the Open Category as well, among honorable mentions.
But this is the first time he's won since the High School and Open Categories were split three years ago when Heino Schmid came on as curator of the Central Bank art gallery space. The new prizes of$7,000 and an offer to hold a solo exhibition by the winner in the space are exciting prospects for the artist who we haven't seen a solo show from before.
"The advantage of having the prize money is to use it as funds for materials for this show," Petit-Homme points out. "Jumping off the piece I've done for this competition, it's going to be a continuation. I think I've found the direction I want to go in."
This year, the theme for the Open Category was "So So Beautiful", chosen by Ian Fernander, the Head of Administration for Central Bank. Petit-Homme's winning piece,"Beautiful Monsters"stood out from other competitors, the judges said, because of its flawless technique and approach to the theme which kept drawing their gazes back.
"As soon as the announcement for the theme was made, I thought about the piece for an entire year and only in the last month did I make it," he says." Lately I've been thinking about my Haitian connection, and also the mythologies within Haitian culture, and creating my own mythology out of these in a way. But I'm also thinking about challenging beauty in it."
Petit-Homme's piece depicts, in a flurry of subdued, dreamy colors, parents with human and animal features looking upon their newborn--indeed, the opposing forces of beauty and monstrosity provide tension that challenges its viewers but presents a resolution in the child's story beyond the frame. Though fantastical, the piece resists high fantasy, and instead draws upon folklore and magical realist roots to pierce the veil of reality and touch upon the inherent "what if" in the ideal of beauty.
Petit-Homme will be following in the footsteps of recent winners Lavar Munroe(2009 winner with the theme"Redefining the Portrait")and Omar Richardson (2010 winner with the theme "A Mighty Push Forward") -- Munroe's show at the gallery was hugely successful, and Richardson's upcoming show in December will also prove to be spectacular.
Curator of the space, Heino Schmid, looks forward to Petit-Homme's compelling solo show as the artist is known for both his painting and video installation work.
"I'm really happy mainly because I'm excited to see what he does with his solo show," says Schmid. "He's a prolific artist and works in a variety of mediums. I hope he's ambitious as he wants to be with both the content and medium of work."
Indeed, the offer of a solo show remains optional for the artist to take -- however, it is usually expected that the prize money can help winning artists purchase supplies for a dynamic solo show that can have great financial and professional outcomes.
To Schmid, the pieces submitted to the Open Category Competition act somewhat like proposals for a solo show and should reflect that ambition -- which both he and the judges did not see strong evidence of this year around.
"I think a lot of people who enter this competition enjoy the one-off quality of their work and it's difficult to access how they would develop an exhibition based on the pieces you see here," says Schmid.
"I really want people to think in terms of not just winning this--I want them to look past winning this and also see their solo show as the actual culmination of this competition--a stepping stone to this grander gesture."
With a theme of "So So Beautiful", artists produced pieces that attempted to literally illustrate the theme--but like all competitions, the pieces which stand out always provide fresh and unusual perspectives to the theme or challenge the theme, which only a handful of pieces took the chance on.
"I think the weight of the prize makes you want to be the good student, meet the criteria and check the boxes to make sure you win, which may need some rethinking," says Schmid."There are more than a few very literal pieces instead of using the theme as a jumping-off point."
The result is an overall exhibition that may not entirely lack technique but does lack ambition, and after three years of lackluster response to themed exhibitions, Schmid is ready to further change the way the competition functions in the changing Nassau art scene.
Indeed, for many years the Central Bank of The Bahamas was the closest thing to a gallery space Nassau had, holding shows that would launch or define artists'careers. Likewise, their Annual Art Competition acted as a salon-style space for both up-and-coming and established artists to present their work. No doubt, it will always be regarded as a major player in the history of art in The Bahamas.
Yet the past decade came with a surge of new gallery spaces and The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas with their biannual National Exhibition, provided more avenues for artists to not only hold shows--but to gain more control of how their pieces were presented and who they were presented with.
Though the Central Bank remains an active part of the art scene, Schmid points out that its role as a gallery space has shifted, and it's time to shift the Annual Art Competition as well.
He already started by separating the High School and Open Categories three years ago and providing themes, hoping that the they would provide more of a compelling and unified space for up-and-coming and established artists to play and hold meaningful conversations with one another.
"One of the things I want to do with the competition is to develop a group exhibition that provides a relevant context for work and provides an opportunity for artists not to win an amount of money but to be in communication with each other,"says Schmid.
As of yet, though, Schmid has not been impressed with the turn out, leading him to think about tweaking the Annual Art Competition further to bring out the strong work he knows exists in the art community.
"I just want the show to be stronger -- I want artists to pick up the challenge and baton from the last winner and build on it," he says. "The exhibitions are never as ambitious as I want them to be. I am more than anything an art lover, and I want to be blown away by an art exhibition."
"I like to think momentum is building a little bit and in the future when we set a precedent with an exceptionally strong exhibition that will force people to reevaluate their systems and their practices a little."
The pieces entered into the 28th Annual Central Bank Art Competition in the Open Category are on display in the Central Bank of The Bahamas until October 28th. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call 302 2600 for more information.
The $2.2 million banks and trust companies spent on staff training in 2010 does not tell the full story of what's been happening in the industry, with many employees opting to foot the bill to upgrade their skills themselves.
Kim Bodie, executive director of the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services (BIFS) told Guardian Business yesterday that registration numbers at the institute remain strong at around 500 enrollees, despite a noted drop-off in banks' financial support for training.
"From where I sit, particularly since the economic downturn, we have seen some cutbacks by banks in support of training," Bodie said.
"...In consideration of what has happened, persons have taken [their training costs] on themselves. We have not seen a decline in numbers at the institution," Bodie said.
Scotiabank is a proud platinum sponsor of The Bahamas AIDS Foundation’s Red Ribbon Ball slated for this coming weekend under the theme, “Winter in Paradise”...
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has asked banks to accept money for a public Haiti fund.
Prime Minister Ingraham said the government asked Clearing Banks (see list below) to accept donations into a special account for Emergency and Reconstruction Assistance to Haiti.
Commonwealth Bank shares Thanksgiving joy bringing song, cheer, books and more to local Children's Homes
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Commonwealth Bank's Corporate Learning Centre Book Club will celebrate Thanksgiving by visiting several children's homes, spreading cheer, donating books and extending the hand of friendship.
Through song, reading, games and book donations, the bank that bills itself as the leader in personal banking will demonstrate that it is also a model for caring for others in the community.
"Our members are dedicated to volunteering their time to these children for the entire holiday season and during other particularly poignant occasions during the year when it is important for the young people to know that they are remembered and important," said Anthea Cox, Vice President of Human Resources and Training.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Book Club will visit the Elizabeth Estates Children's Home, Children's Emergency Hostel and Bilney Lane Children's Home.
"The Bank is commited to investing in communities and we realize that every community begins with the children," said Cox. "The value added to the lives of these children via purposeful time spent with them is priceless. While we know we help promote literacy, the deeper meaning of the work we do with the book club is improving the quality of life for these children."
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Royal Bank of Canada's decision to convert its Bahamian banking operation into a subsidiary of the Canadian parent resulted in a "one-off inflow" that further boosted banking system liquidity and the external reserves, which hit $876 million at end-November 2010, amid improved economic prospects for 2011.
The Central Bank of the Bahamas' monthly report on economic and financial developments for November 2010, noting the temporary boost to foreign exchange reserves, said the Bahamian economy continued to show signs of stabilising amid a "modest improvement" in the tourism industry.
This meant that the economy's short-term prospe ...
Profitability for local banks increased 34 percent to $62.3 million according to the latest quarterly report from the Central Bank of The Bahamas, with the former minister of finance saying more loan payments by customers could have been a contributing factor.
James Smith told Guardian Business yesterday that clients that are making more payments played a role in the growth in banks’ profit rise, along with other factors.
“The banks are probably getting bigger spreads now,” Smith said. “Customers are probably paying a little bit less on deposits and a little more on loans. Bad loans were providing for them but in spite of that they are still doing quite well wit ...
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.
Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash revealed yesterday that police returned his cell phone and laptops not long after seizing them three weeks ago, but said he has refused to use them because he suspects they have been bugged.
"The phone was returned the following day and the laptops were returned three or four days later," Cash told The Nassau Guardian.
"I have not used the instruments to any meaningful degree because I fully expect that they have been laden with spyware."
Police seized the items from the chairman's Cable Beach home on May 1 as a part of a probe into confidential leaks from Bank of The Bahamas.
Speaking to the issue yesterday, Cash said, "I have since this event detected numerous unusual events in my email account, and I intend to raise those issues with my service provider.
"Suffice it to say that nine of 10 persons that I spoke to during this entire event opined that all instruments ought to be immediately discarded and it is troubling the extent of distrust that exists, but obviously it is not something that the commissioner or the ministers of national security care about.
"That is to be expected and so often they speak, and people do not believe what they are saying. It is as simple as the statistics that they release on a regular basis that people don't believe. They are distrustful of their institutions and that is not good for our democracy."
Police have not charged Cash or anybody else in relation to the Bank of the Bahamas probe. They also have not said whether they found anything on Cash's equipment.
The Nassau Guardian was told by a senior police official that only Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson could comment on the matter, but Ferguson has been unreachable.
"I'm now wondering why there has been no action because whatever it is they were looking for, they didn't find it," Cash said. "Not only was there not a smoking gun, there was no gun."
Asked about his exchange with police at the time the items were being returned, Cash said, "We engaged in unproductive banter".
He said he expressed to police that as far as he could see they were doing nothing to investigate underlying allegations made by The Punch about certain activities at the bank.
Bank of The Bahamas officials have strongly denied allegations that loans were granted based on political favors or that the bank's financial position is under threat.
Earlier this year, Cash called for an investigation into the allegations made by The Punch.
Following the seizure of his property, Cash sought redress in the Supreme Court, alleging that his constitutional right to privacy had been violated.
He has made two appearances already before a judge.
Asked why he still pursued the legal matter even though the items were returned, he said, "Fundamental to the point that we made is if there was a narrow scope of the police's investigation, meaning Bank of The Bahamas, the scope of their search should have been equally narrow".
Cash said he was not surprised that he got his items back so soon.
"This is the information age and any competent 10th grader knows how to conduct a search, and so that is the same reason why nearly one month later it hasn't surprised me that we haven't heard back from them to confirm that there was nothing there," he said, adding that he fears information relating to his party might have been shared with others.
"And the easiest way to do that was to find a scapegoat with a mere tangential connection to the information that was disclosed in The Punch, someone who didn't have direct access or even indirect access to the information. The only connection was [my wife] happened to work for the same organization."
Cash said his wife, Annette, remains on paid leave.
He insisted that the whole matter goes to the heart of trust in democratic institutions.
"The nature of society that [Prime Minister] Perry Christie has produced is one where people distrust their government, and they distrust the police. And this matter is far from over," he said.
"That's all I'm prepared to say right now."
MINISTRY OF FINANCE FEES PAYABLE BY RETAIL BANKS for 2009/2010 and 2010/2011.
CelePay, the Bahamian-owned company that allows users to transfer money using only their cell phones, is very close to signing on a banking partner - a key step to the concept going mainstream.
Founded by six Bahamian investors, the $500,000 start-up also plans to sell cash cards on the street so customers can purchase BTC minutes.
Byron Fawknotson, the CEO of CelePay, said both of these steps will help bring the service to the masses.
"Beginning this week, CelePay is going to make sure you can buy BTC minutes directly on your phone," he said. "All you have to do is load money on the phone and request the minutes. We are also in discussions with a banking partner."
The fledging company is also in discussions with the Central Bank, Fawknotson added, to ensure the platform meets regulatory standards. CelePay is just coming off its testing phase with College of the Bahamas (COB), where the founders engaged more than 400 students and gave away $3,000 so they could test-drive the service.
"There was clearly tremendous interest there," he told Guardian Business.
"We expect over the next six months we'll have at least 10,000 on the system once the trial period is done."
And as one test run at COB ends, another is set to begin.
Fawknotson said, together with a local radio station 94FM, CelePay plans to give away $25,000 this week through a game show whereby they win money for their cell-phone accounts.
"We're basically giving away $25,000 and saying to people that using your phone to deal with money and drive commerce is the future," he explained.
Whereas at the moment CelePay is not linked with bank accounts, that will soon change, he said. Right now, customers can send a maximum of $300 to other cell phones through the CelePay network. The company takes 1 percent of the total amount for the service.
Text message money transfers is a trend catching out elsewhere in the world.
In The Philippines, a country of nearly 90 million people and more than 7,000 islands, the technology is especially useful. Similarly, The Bahamas could greatly benefit from the service as transactions go back and forth between the islands.
Going forward, CelePay hopes to link the cell phone transfers directly with bank accounts, bringing much greater efficiency to the current banking system.
For many children, Christmas time conjures up images of a mountain of gifts under their Christmas tree with many toys and treats inside.
But for countless others, receiving even one gift on this special holiday is cause for joy and celebration.
Such is the thought behind the latest charity drive by the Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M. - Toys for Tots - which aims to provide Christmas gifts to children in the Bain and Grants Town areas this holiday.
The brainchild of Natila Saunders, director and Young Children Priority One chairperson of the Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M., Toys for Tots encourages members of the public to donate one unwrapped gift to touch the life of one less fortunate child in the community.
Many individual acts of kindness will go a long way collectively - in fact, Saunders hopes to reach as many as 500 families this year.
"I know it sounds ambitious, but I think it's very easy to do that and even more," she said. "We're trying to get as many donations as possible so we can give them the Christmas that they deserve."
As part of the service organization Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M., Saunders has been involved with many programs that aim to provide food and clothing to those less fortunate, especially in the Bain and Grants Town areas.
Last year, when the organization undertook a major service project assisting two families, the reaction by the children to the toys they donated made an impression on Saunders and inspired her to establish Toys for Tots.
"You should have seen the joy on the children's faces - they were elated," she remembered. "So I just wanted to do something that could touch even more children."
Partnering up with Bank of The Bahamas is perfect for Kiwanis Club as an organization that gives back to the less fortunate. Bank of The Bahamas employees dedicate their time to causes that are close to their hearts and which change the lives of others - and this program is no different.
All Bank of The Bahamas branches will be gift drop-off points during weekday business hours, as well as on Saturdays at the Harrold Road and Village Road branches which are open from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"I wasn't even expecting it to be this major but I'm really thankful because with Bank of The Bahamas as a partner, I'm sure it's going to have an even greater impact," said Saunders.
Once the drive closes on December 21, Bank of The Bahamas employees and Kiwanis members will sort the gifts and on Christmas Day will venture into the neighborhoods and provide them to the children and their families to make their holiday unforgettable.
Indeed, the drive taps into the true spirit of Christmas that encourages charity, selflessness and giving above receiving. Above all, it encourages the community to come together to uplift those who really need it during this time of year when disparity and lack become more apparent and difficult to handle.
"It shows the children that we actually care, to have complete strangers come into the neighborhood to do something for them," pointed out Saunders. "It's more special knowing that we go there on Christmas Day and they have something to look forward to on that special day."
They are appealing to the public to donate any gift at the Bank of The Bahamas branches until December 21, whether books, stuffed animals, board games, dolls, actions figures - anything will make a difference, insisted Saunders.
"We're asking for the public to respond to this very important project," she said. "It doesn't require much. No gift is too big or too small, and we'd appreciate anything because it will go a very, very long way."
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
By REUBEN SHEARER
Tribune Staff Reporter
ROYAL Bank of Canada's domestic retail and commercial banking operations conducted through its branch network in the Bahamas will be transferred to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada, which is headquartered in Toronto, named RBC Royal Bank (Bahamas) Limited.
The business will now be operated under the brand name RBC Royal Bank, it was announced this week.
RBC Royal Bank (Bahamas) Limited was incorporated under the laws of the Bahamas and will be licensed by the Central Bank of the Bahamas.
RBC has had a presence in the Bahamas since 1908 and said it is committed to expanding its presence in the ...
For decades the Central Bank of the Bahamas has been providing a platform for emerging artists to display their work in their Annual Art Competition and Exhibition, and this year, much of the work on display went beyond still life.The Central Bank Art Competition and Exhibition in the High School Category recognizes and celebrates the artistic talents of Bahamian youth. This past Wednesday the exhibition opened to the public and the winners were recognized for their outstanding contributions.
Speaking at the event last night, now in its 28th year, Governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas Wendy Craigg pointed out that the event continues to predict great future artists in the Bahamian community as well as encourage creativity and foster a love of the arts in this emerging generation.
"We know that children benefit from encouragement and support, and what we continue to accomplish through this competition is to nurture our children's creativity, imagination and innovation and advance their capabilities so that they develop personally and socially and through their artistic impressions, offer insights into our world,"she says.
"From the works displayed here today, we can certainly feel a sense of pride. It seems to be that the level of work is excellent."
Indeed, one of the official judges, John Cox, said he was encouraged by the level and quality of work on display. Like the governor, he also pointed out that teachers, parents and institutions like the Central Bank deserve to be thanked for their encouragement.
"Artists don't really come out of a vacuum, artists really come out of a strong fabric of creators and thinkers and people who encourage them and give them proper guidance," he said.
"The conversations in this work definitely reflect beyond being a competent artist who can make colors and render something to look like something else," he continued. "Obviously these artists have really internalized their environments and they brought them forward in these mediums, and it's very encouraging to see that level of visual intelligence."
The words rang true especially as the winner this year, Kenel Augustin, was part of the National Art & Craft Center under the Department of Education, which provided him with afterschool classes in which to develop his artistic practice.
"I really think the school supported me and helped me with my pieces and confidence and just to express my talent," he says, thanking especially his teacher Timothy Nottage.
For Augustin, who is in the eleventh grade at C.I. Gibson and hopes to study art after high school, painting is a way to share a message with society. His winning painting, "Bain Town Riot" displays an acute sense of social consciousness.
"I think people aren't supposed to be fighting and rioting all over the place, so I did this piece to show people that it is not always about violence and causing crime and destructiveness in the world," he explains.
Second place went to Bobby Telusnord (C.I. Gibson) with his piece "A Good Time" and third place went to Maudeline Alcy (C.I. Gibson) with "Fire in Mackey Yard".
Honorable mentions were Daniel Morley (Queen's College) with "Mixed Fantasy"; Krystal Major (C.I. Gibson) with "Amos Ferguson"; and Cameron Johnson (Temple Christian) with "Annabelle's Straw Shop".
The Best Young Artist (14 years old and younger) went to Lex Fountain (Mt. Carmel Preparatory) with his piece "Saxing with Sonny Rollins". The Scholarship Award was given to Alton Joseph (C.R. Walker) for his piece "Untitled". The Governor General's Award was given to Kirkwood Deal (Kingsway Academy) with "Who Are We?".
The exhibition which includes all of the winning pieces, is up until the end of November at The Central Bank of The Bahamas. Hours are 9 a.m. 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
For more photos of the opening reception and awards ceremony, check out our online gallery at www.thenassauguardian.com.
Following the success of the 2012 Nassau Conference, held October 10, 2012, the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies (AIBT) has once again partnered with the Ministry of Financial Services and The College of The Bahamas (COB) to launch the 2013 Nassau Conference Essay Competition, leading in to this year's event.
At the 2012 Nassau Conference, AIBT selected ten students who will, this summer, be engaged in a six-week paid internship at the following member companies:
o Corner Bank & Trust Ltd.
o Credit Suisse AG Trust Ltd.
o Pictet Bank & Trust Ltd.
o Societe General Private Banking (Bahamas) Ltd
o The Private Trust Corporation Ltd.
o The St. James Bank & Trust (Bahamas) Ltd.
o The Winterbotham Trust Company Ltd.
o UBS (Bahamas) Ltd.
o The Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company (Bahamas) Ltd.
A protocol workshop for the students will be conducted prior to the start of the internships, covering the soft skills required to prepare them for successful engagements with the companies and position them to get the most out of the program.
For this year's essay competition, COB will provide a list of twenty one students across academic disciplines in banking, financial services and related fields of study, who will be invited to submit a 500-word essay on the 2013 conference theme "The shift has occurred. How are you positioned?"
A selection committee will interview each of the short-listed candidates, rate their essays and consider other criteria including community involvement, special interests and extracurricular activities. A total of ten students will be chosen to attend the 2013 Nassau Conference and participate in the 2014 summer Internships. Further, two students will be selected to attend a Spanish Language Emersion Programme in Mexico sponsored by the AIBT.
"This is an opportunity for students to not only experience a world-class conference, but also to gain valuable real-world experience and skills," said Antoinette Russell, Nassau Conference chairperson and deputy chair of AIBT, the founding sponsor of The Nassau Conference. She added: "The conference and the related AIBT efforts continue to expose the next generation of leaders to this dynamic and vital sector and help continue the country's leadership as a financial services center.
"This initiative underscores the ongoing commitment of AIBT, and its members and partners, to the continued growth of the sector by promoting the development of the next generation of leaders and industry professionals."
When the House of Assembly sits again, it is expected that Prime Minister Perry Christie or Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis will break the government's silence over the direction and leadership of Resolve Bahamas Ltd. (Resolve).
The company was supposed to hire an accounting firm to collect on $100 million in outstanding commercial loans which Resolve "purchased" from Bank of The Bahamas on October 31, 2014. Halkitis said on October 31 that an announcement would be made within a week from that date about who that accounting firm would be.
Prime Minister Christie spoke about the matter after touring the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas recently, noting that the government would "have to account to the Bahamian public" for whatever it does with respect to Resolve.
"With respect to that money, we are hiring an accounting firm to manage Resolve. That firm has been identified.
I have had a meeting with one of the partners of the firm... I have given the directions that I would wish to give as the government on how we would wish this to be done in the best interest of the Bahamian people," Christie said.
"I expect then to review reports that have been done; I expect them to get going and I expect to come to the Bahamian people on what will be happening with the company Resolve."
Resolve was formed on October 31, 2014 for the express purpose of relieving Bank of The Bahamas of a dangerous amount of bad commercial debt. The government-owned Resolve swapped $100 million in bonds - backed by a "letter of comfort" - for $100 million of the bank's non-performing commercial loans.
The bonds in question are redeemable, non-convertible bonds - coupons of Nassau Prime less 50 basis points - in the denominations of $1 million and $5 million, with maturity of up to 10 years. These bonds are classified as a performing asset on the bank's balance sheet.
Thus, for nothing but a government "letter of comfort" - the bonds depend on the letter for their value - Bank of The Bahamas was able to rid itself of debilitating non-performing loans and return to capital adequacy compliance.
Resolve, meanwhile, must do all in its power to collect on the outstanding debt.
Many questions have been asked in the weeks since the company was unveiled, primary among them the matter of leadership. Christie also addressed that issue, saying that "significant Bahamian personalities (have been identified who) will be respected by the country upon their agreeing to be directors of Resolve and so with the appointment of directors people will see that this is a part of steps we are taking to ensure that not only that Bank of The Bahamas go on to make a profit and that's going to happen, (but) also, that we will take that $100 million and find a way to get a lot of it back for the country."
Guardian Business revealed earlier that former Central Bank Governor James Smith was one of those shortlisted to head the company.
New data from The Central Bank of The Bahamas indicates a significantly increased number of businesses struggled to meet financial obligations in 2013, with a 30 percent growth in arrears on commercial loans in large part responsible for a rise in the proportion of total loans which were overdue in 2013.
In its Monthly Economic and Financial Development report for December 2013, The Central Bank of The Bahamas, comparing economic and financial conditions last year and in 2012, found that the country saw a two percent increase in the overall number of loans in arrears last year to 22 percent.
The data provides yet further evidence of the sluggishness of the economic recovery, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently described as "painfully slow", and the fact that for many, their financial situation continues to worsen rather than improve.
Going into detail on the worsening credit quality indicators, the central bank records that commercial arrears rose by $83.1 million to $353.9 million in 2013, with a 45.1 percent rise in "non-accrual loans".
Arrears on non-performing commercial loans, those which have gone unpaid for over 90 days, increased the most, rising to an elevated 15.7 percent of total commercial loans.
Non-accrual or non-performing loans are those on which interest or principal has not been paid in over 90 days, and full collection of the principal is ultimately uncertain, usually due to financial difficulties being experienced by the borrower.
Meanwhile, another sign of challenges among businesses in 2013 was registered in the area of new credit to the private sector, which declined by $75.9 million in 2013, a larger fall than the $39.7 million registered in 2012, suggesting that investment confidence was down amidst a tough economic environment. The central bank attributed the decline to "sustained weakness in domestic demand".
Mortgage arrears also contributed to the deterioration in domestic banks credit quality indicators, although not to the extent that commercial arrears did, growing by $31.4 million, or 4.5 percent, to $730.9 million.
One area where levels of delinquencies showed an improvement in 2013 was consumer loans. Here delinquencies declined by $12.9 million, or 4.6 percent, to $267.4 million. While there was a reduction in new consumer credit extended, the fall in this area was significantly lower than in 2012, at $8.9 million from $25.8 million last year. In the area of new credit in the form of mortgages, the $2.5 million fall-off reversed the prior year's $16.5 million gain.
This reduction in consumer loan arrears fits with comments recently made by a senior banking source who spoke on condition of anonymity with Guardian Business. The executive, commenting on government plans to implement a Homeowners Protection Bill, said that consideration should be given by the government to the fact that people are choosing to prioritize their consumer loans over their mortgages, or other loans.
The worsening credit quality indicators, particularly in the area of commercial loans, is likely to add fuel to concerns that the implementation of value-added tax (VAT), which is anticipated to increase administrative costs to businesses and potentially to result in cash flow challenges, may push a number of businesses "over the edge" in 2014.
More broadly, the central bank said that preliminary indications are that domestic economic conditions were mildly positive in December, supported by ongoing foreign investment projects and a slightly improved tourism outcome.
Looking forward, it added that the domestic economy's "growth momentum is expected to be sustained", with the potential for an improved outcome in 2014, based on gains in the tourism sector, amid the ongoing strengthening in several key source markets, increased room capacity and greater airlift.
"Construction sector output is also anticipated to remain relatively brisk, as a number of varied-scale foreign investment projects gain traction. A potential upside of these developments is a gradual improvement in employment conditions, especially in the services sector, and recovery in domestic demand. Meanwhile, inflation trends will continue to mirror the evolution of international oil prices and be influenced, to some extent, by the implementation of government's new value-added tax regime," said the bank.
Contacted for comment, Edison Sumner, chief executive officer of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), referred this newspaper to the organization's Chairman Chester Cooper. Up to press time, a message sent to Cooper seeking comment was not returned.
LONG ISLAND, Bahamas -- Scotiabank today reported an armed robbery at its Stella Maris branch in Long Island. The Bank reported that on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at about 10:30 a.m., the Bank was robbed by two armed robbers of an undetermined amount of cash. Bank management have confirmed that there were no injuries sustained by staff or customers.
"Due to the nature of our business, a robbery is always a possibility. But, we assure the public of our commitment to security and to the safety of our customers and employees. We are working with the Royal Bahamas Police Force in their investigation of this matter." Bank operations in the Stella Maris branch were suspended for the day and normal banking are operations expected to resume next Monday, June 4, 2012.
A decision by HSBC to exit the banking market in The Bahamas in no way indicates deficiencies on the part of the Bahamian financial services environment, according to the minister of financial services...
In a continued effort to show appreciation for customers, Bank of The Bahamas' (BOB) Village Road staff recently held a surprise birthday celebration for a very special customer.
Rev. Matthias Munroe, ex-serviceman of World War II, chaplain, executive secretary of the British Royal Legion (Bahamas branch) and retired pastor of Salem Baptist Church, who celebrated his 90th birthday on May 3, was brought to the bank by his sister on Friday, May 2. What he thought was a regular visit to the bank turned out to be a celebration thrown by his favorite branch, complete with birthday cake, singing and cheers from well-wishers.
"I am truly grateful that the bank would do this for me. I can hardly express it in words. I have been banking with BOB since 2001, and I can say that they are the best," Rev. Munroe said.
BOB Village Road Branch Manager Alaasis Braynen explained that building relationships with clients should be the primary focus of service-based businesses. "We try to get to know each of our customers individually, and we work hard to strengthen those relationships.
"We wanted to have a moment of thanks for Rev. Munroe on his 90th birthday and recognize his long-standing relationship with the bank," Braynen said. He also explained that BOB makes special provisions for its older customers with a senior citizens' line, pensioners' day activities and the BOB seniors account.
Bank of The Bahamas Limited (BOB) is an award-winning, full-service commercial bank with 13 branches on seven islands.
Customers of Fidelity Bank may have received an email similar to the one pictured below prompting viewers to click a link to view their Fidelity Online account. We are advising our customers not to click on this link, as this email is fraudulent and was not sent from Fidelity Bank. We are working diligently to resolve this issue.
A common type of email fraud is called “phishing”. Phishing is the practice of sending phony email messages that are disguised as legitimate and often include company logos that look real. A typical phishing email will include a false claim about a customer’s account and either a link or button that takes them to a “spoof” website that mimics a reputable company’s actual website, in hopes that they will disclose personal information or account information. Some phishing emails may also have attachments which may contain potential email viruses.
The Nassau Conference, the annual professional development conference presented by the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies in The Bahamas (AIBT)...