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EDITOR, The Tribune.
I SHALL be obliged if you would publish this letter in the event that my "representa" -- Mr Brent Symonette -- is at the UN and not able to reach the BEC Minister.
Please forward my invitation, to whichever Minister has responsibility for Bahamas Electricity Corporation and ask him/her to stoop, just for a few moments, to the lowly level of the Bahamian populace who elected him/her, and just try to reach someone at this august public entity. By telephone I mean.
A few moments ago I e-mailed you to advise that the north end of San Souci has been without electricity since the little blow we had on Tuesday evening and it is still out this afternoo ...
After Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said last week the government is in the advanced stages of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) break-up deal, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney said yesterday the government now needs to reveal more details on the planned restructuring and the companies involved."This government is very quiet on it, very quiet as to whether or not it is being sold and whom it is being sold to," McCartney said."I just hope it is not reminiscent of what was being done with BTC (the Bahamas Telecommunications Company) prior to 2007 with Bluewater. You have to be very careful. I think they owe the country an explanation."...If it is being sold, who is it being sold to? We have a right to know. That is not their own. That is the Bahamian people's corporation. What is the price that it is being sold for and who are involved in the sale?"The former Christie administration considered selling 49 percent of BTC to Bluewater Ventures Limited, a company that the Free National Movement said had no experience in telecommunications.Ultimately, the Ingraham administration sold 51 percent of BTC to Cable & Wireless Communications in 2011, but there have been calls from observers and politicians alike for both deals to be independently investigated.Davis, whose portfolio includes BEC, said last week there are five companies that remain in the running to become part of the overhaul.He said the government will decide in a matter of weeks whether it will engage one or two companies to take over the power generation and transmission and distribution of BEC.McCartney said at this stage details regarding the BEC break-up deal are crucial if the government wants to be transparent."I want to know if foolishness is going on regarding BEC, point blank," he said. "These are the same people when they were in opposition spoke about the Freedom of Information Act."The FOIA was debated and passed under the Ingraham administration but has not been enforced."And now all they want to do is run away from it," McCartney said."That is one of the first things this government should have implemented."But they are not going to do it. Why? Because at the end of the day they do not want you to know everything, and that is the bottom line."While there has been no official disclosure, The Nassau Guardian understands that the bidders as of October 2013, included Malaysia-based Genting Group; China State Construction and Engineering Corporation; Cayman-based Inter Energy, U.S.-based PowerSecure, and Caribbean Power Partners.
Over the past 15 years, oil and other substances have seeped into the ocean in part due to discharged material at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's (BEC) Clifton Pier Power Station, according to BEC Assistant General Manager Shevonn Cambridge.
Oil collecting into old disused trenches on the property has resulted in oil spilling into the sea on previous occasions.
"While BEC has spearheaded the efforts [of] maintaining and recovering the product that is out there, it has never really conclusively decided or discovered that it was all sourced from BEC," Cambridge said on Thursday.
"Basically they did some analysis of the product a number of years ago and actually found there were products that were in this product going out to sea that BEC doesn't even store or use."
He said the problem is monitored on a daily basis to immediately act in the event of any oil seeping from the facility to prevent it going out to sea.
The corporation is in discussions with another service provider to install more "permanent measures" to capture and retain any oil product that seeps from BEC's compound.
He said there are three alternatives being considered but none are inexpensive to undertake.
Asked about the environmental impact, Cambridge said several environmental impact studies have been completed and another is ongoing as the issue has come up once again.
He was unable to say how much oil has spilled over that period of time or within the last year.
"We want to establish a new [database] so we can compare that to the progression or reduction from the last set of tests that were done in that area," Cambridge said.
He insisted BEC has implemented an action plan to address the problem over the years, but incremental weather and the compound's structure contribute to the ongoing problem.
Environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr, who has been outspoken on the issue for some time, told those in attendance at a College of The Bahamas lecture last month that several reefs in the Clifton Pier area have been nearly destroyed by repeated oil spills from BEC's Clifton Pier plant.
As the government enters into "financial negotiations" with a shortlist of bidders in the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) restructuring, the presidents of the corporation's unions have again decried the "lack of transparency" involved in the process.
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Perry Christie, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard and Bahamas Electrical Utilities Managerial Union (BEUMU) President Clinton Minnis lamented the unions' lack of participation in the process.
"Again, we repeat that we are an integral part to this process and its eventual success now and in the future," the letter said.
The unions said they had a meeting with government advisors KPMG (Bahamas) and a financial advisor.
Though they did not say when the meeting took place, they said, "Sadly, we left this meeting with more concerns, uncertainty and less clarity of the process than before."
The letter, dated September 12, was copied to Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Chairman Robert Myers and Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Rev. Dr. Ranford Patterson.
Last August, Christie revealed the government's plans to engage private companies to offer power generation for BEC and gain a management contract to take over transmission, distribution and customer billing.
At the time, the government proposed a timeline for reform, which would see private companies launch their operations by May 2014.
Two weeks ago, KPMG (Bahamas), which is overseeing the process, announced the government will no longer split the corporation into two entities, but will create one new company, which will be owned by BEC.
KPMG also said the deadline to conclude the deal is November.
However, it remains unclear whether the government has selected a preferred bidder.
The BCCEC, the official opposition and the Democratic National Alliance have also criticized the government over what they have called a lack of transparency and repeated delays.
The union leaders requested that the prime minister respond to 10 separate points raised regarding the request for proposals (RFP) process.
Among these, were requests for all proposals submitted by the bidders and the relevant technical and pricing submissions to provided.
The union leaders also requested that the government provide the preliminary and final evaluation of those bids, matters relating to staffing plans and the need for work permits, and plans related to the legacy debt and its effect on the final cost of electricity.
"Once union leaders have received complete responses to the above and are comfortable that they can inform members that they are satisfied that the evaluation and selection process was fair and transparent, the selection of the preferred bidder/bidders can be concluded," the letter said.
"However, we are confident that the minister of works and urban development (Davis) will arrange information related to the RFP bid evaluation process to be shared with the union leaders to enable them to give a favorable report to union members.
"Finally, we wish to repeat that we fully support you, and the deputy prime minister in this process, as long as we feel satisfied that the eventual privatization of BEC and the attendant benefits that will accrue to all employees and the Bahamian people."
The government has yet to officially announce the companies involved, although it has confirmed that China State Construction and Engineering Corporation is among the bidders.
One of the challenges that the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is facing this year is an increase of customers, said Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour yesterday.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Neymour explained that although BEC has benefited from nearly 3,000 additional customers being serviced this year, the demand has increased the need for additional diesel fuel, which has increased costs.
According to Neymour, BEC has 106,000 customers.
He said that, "as a result of [this] we have a three cent increase (per kilowatt hour) in the fuel charge. There is no longer a fuel surcharge."
Neymour said in the middle of October that he did not anticipate a reduction in fuel charges due to the high price of oil at the time, despite BEC projecting a reduction weeks earlier.
On Monday, BEC Chairman Michael Moss said that customers can expect their fuel charge to increase for the month of November due to increases in oil costs.
Moss said customers can expect to pay about $0.26 per kilowatt hour for electricity consumed in November, which is a $0.03 increase over last month's fuel charge of about $0.23.
BEC officials expected a decrease in electricity bills due to an expected drop in fuel prices as has historically been the case around this time, and because of an increase in production at the Clifton Pier plant, Moss explained Monday.
However, while there has been increased production at the plant, fuel prices have increased.
Neymour said yesterday that, "Many customers would recognize as they go to the service stations that they would have seen a decrease in gasoline, but the price of the lower fuel products like diesel and heavy fuel oil have increased based upon international costs."
He pointed out that over the summer BEC had consumed considerable amounts of heavy fuel oil and diesel oil, which cost the corporation more.
"If one were to compare the prices this year versus last year, the cost of the heavy fuel oil has increased 50 percent, which is significant," he said, adding that, "fuel bills today are 50 percent more than last year but they are in fact 10 percent less than they were in 2008."
When asked if this increase will result in disconnections for many customers, Neymour said that may not happen.
"Because it's cooler now, customers are using less air conditioning so their consumption is expected to decrease," he said.
Prime Minister Perry Christie has indicated that he is minded to offer shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company to the general public and added that the government has no interest in having managerial control of BTC.
"The way of the future really is that we have to, like the Bank of The Bahamas, involve more Bahamians in the ownership of these entities, and so from my point of view, without prejudging the government, the answer is yes to that question," said Christie when asked if he would ever offer shares in BTC to Bahamians.
Upon coming to office in 2012, Christie announced that his administration was shelving the Ingraham government's plan to offer nine percent of BTC shares to Bahamians.
While Christie indicated in a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian that the government would likely eventually sell shares, he made it clear that the focus at this time is concluding the deal with Cable & Wireless Communications for majority control of BTC.
The Cabinet will today discuss the final details of the deal, according to the prime minister, who again expressed optimism in the outcome of the effort.
Christie said it was never his intention for the government to have managerial control of BTC.
"The reason why I have put the airport under management is because I accept the efficiencies that private managers bring, and so I want Bahamasair, I want BEC, I want the water corporation, I want to be able to infuse private management into some of these because we're losing money and I want to be able to broaden ownership and the risk and the responsibility," he said.
"So no. From my purposes, that was never an issue when we were talking about owning 51 percent and intending to sell in our first term. We always knew that it would be private management that would be the order of the day.
The prime minister said from his point of view, the deal to acquire a majority interest in BTC is "complete". But he said, "When we announce this, I want to do it knowing that the government has agreed."
Christie added, "From the point of view of the government of The Bahamas, the government of The Bahamas must actually see the dots and the crossed Ts -- in other words, the literal agreement or memorandum of understanding itself.
"From my point of view, from the point of view of the committee I have appointed, we have completed that. I think the country will have a very interesting set of propositions that will be put to them.
"And to those people who told me don't waste my time, they will have, I think, a surprising outcome to this whole affair."
Christie also told The Nassau Guardian that the deal to restructure the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is "nearing its final stages".
KPMG is one of the government's advisors for the breakup of BEC and was expected to make recommendations to the government about the preferred bidders that propose to take over the corporation's management and power generation.
The company also advised the Ingraham administration before it sold BTC to Cable & Wireless Communications.
Asked why his administration, which was highly critical of the BTC deal, decided to use KPMG as its advisor for the BEC deal, Christie said, "I thought in the process they would be the best of the people available to us to take this deal to the conclusion we would like to see.
"The Ministry of Finance was using them on other matters, like for example, the Ministry of Finance had used them to examine subsidies to hotels and the tourism industry, and so it was a natural fit for us we thought since they had been through the learning experience of BTC, for us to use them for BEC, and it has proven to be so."
The salaries of more than 100 middle mangers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) were cut on Monday for their participation in three days of sick-out between February and March. Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU) President Ervin Dean said yesterday that the union has already written a letter to BEC’s General Manager Kevin Basden requesting that the money be refunded immediately.
“BEC cut our pay for three days for which we called in sick for a day in February and two days in March,” he said.
“The problem we have with that is that BEC owes us about $3 million for our industrial agreement, which has [been] expired for more than th ...
By ALISON LOWE
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is seeking to negotiate a reduction in the length of time and cost of a contract it is soon to award for the installation of an upgraded 10.5 mile transmission line, which will allow the new Wilson City Power Plant to fully service Abaco's power needs, after the lowest bid came in at $4.6 million.
Expectations of when that key power line will be fully operation have now been pushed back from an initial mid-May completion, as suggested by Minister for the Environment, Earl Deveaux, in January, to an "end of June, early July" date, Tribune Business has been informed.
While no contrac ...
After reporting that the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) lost nearly $13 million in the first quarter of this fiscal year, BEC Chairman Leslie Miller said yesterday the corporation will provide electricity, free of charge, to the upcoming CARIFTA games at the new Thomas A. Robinson stadium.
"The electricity cost for the three-day event is expected to be in the neighborhood of $60,000," he said at a press conference at BEC headquarters.
"BEC has agreed to absorb the entire cost of electricity consumed at the stadium during this time.
"The Bahamas Electricity Corporation realizes the tremendous burden that electricity costs have on not only residents and businesses, but to other nonprofit organizations, including those in the sporting community."
Miller said the cost of electricity should "never be a hindrance to the success of any event that is meant for the Bahamian people".
When asked how this gift will affect BEC, Miller said, "BEC is a multimillion-dollar entity with assets totaling almost $1 billion; $60,000 is not a whole lot of money with regard to BEC.
"Remember now, we are providing electricity and this electricity would be provided at our cost so obviously our direct cost would be cheaper than what would normally be charged to say a commercial entity.
"The Bahamian people are providing this gift because BEC is owned by the people of The Bahamas so this is their gift to CARIFTA.
"It's not our gift; it's their gift. The Bahamian people own the corporation."
During a recent contribution in the House of Assembly, Miller said BEC could lose in excess of $40 million to $50 million this year.
He said the corporation must tighten its belt so that it, along with other corporations, could sustain themselves without having to go to the government.
The CARIFTA games are scheduled to start March 29.
High-profile speakers are gearing up to deliver unique energy solutions this coming weekend, with the Energy Efficiency Forum and Exhibition in Nassau promising to bring together more than 20 presenters and an equal number of exhibitions.
Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC) is perhaps one of the more well-known U.S. companies attending the forum.
Over the last couple of months, Guardian Business has reported two landmark deals for OTEC - the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, and a partnership with Baha Mar to deliver the mega-project's air conditioning.
Jeremy Feakins, the CEO of OTEC, will be sending the company's head engineer, Dr Stephen Oney, to Nassau to discuss what it can offer hotels and business in The Bahamas.
"We will be discussing sea water district cooling, how it is both environmentally friend and saves money," he explained.
"Were invited to discuss the concept. It uses up to 90 percent less electricity than conventional sources. Given a lot of hotels are close to the beach, there may be opportunities for some of these establishments to use it."
In line with OTEC's expansion plans, Feakins told Guardian Business that Oney is arriving in Nassau with an eye for more opportunities.
He pointed out that OTEC's plans to release its first initial public offering (IPO) in the new year is intended to raise capital to support it's global expansion. The funding for its current projects, he said, has already been established.
Another presenter at the conference is James Malcolm, the marketing director for Lindroth Development Company.
As the face of Schooner Bay, the rising multi-million-dollar community in Abaco, his presentation will address innovative ways to use the natural environment to achieve profitable and successful development.
Yesterday, Guardian Business revealed a new report detailing Schooner Bay's $332.8 million savings through its "ecological dividend", as coined by the top developer on the project, Orjan Lindroth.
The thrust of Malcolm's talk will be how to build in The Bahamas "without destroying the environment".
"They asked me to speak about green building technologies," he said.
"You can speak about it all day without scratching the surface. But basically I'll be talking about how to use ecology as it relates to development. I will highlight the importance of bringing in green techniques right at the beginning, at the planning and design stage."
Drawing on the Schooner Bay project as an example, Malcolm will review the history of the development and where it's going.
He will also draw on several intriguing specifics, such as the project's innovative use of geo-thermal air conditioning for homes and businesses. The system, pumping cold salt water from 400 feet underground, goes through a closed loop through houses.
When the water becomes warm, it is sent back underground.
Another new feature at Schooner is the natural cistern created by the development.
As The Bahamas continues to experience a great deal of rain over the past few days, the cistern, Malcolm said, has accumulated 9,000 gallons of rainwater.
The project intends on using this resource for agriculture and landscaping.
Malcolm and Oney will be on hand on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 at the Wyndham Nassau Resort, providing an opportunity for attendees to learn and meet specialists in the energy efficiency and substantiability field.
Nov. 4 will be tailored to business, whereas the next day focuses on residents and businesses.
The event is sponsored by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, the Bahamas Hotel Association and the Bahamas Home & Builders Show.
The Ministry of the Environment, the U.S. Embassy, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Bahamian Contractors Association are all taking part and lending support.
Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller yesterday warned the "the three hotels out west" to pay their outstanding electricity bills by the end of the week or face disconnection.
Miller said they collectively owe the corporation more than $30 million.
He said BEC is struggling with a fuel bill that exceeds $100 million.
Miller initially made his comments while a guest on the More FM radio show "Real Talk Live" with Ortland Bodie.
He repeated them in an interview with The Nassau Guardian, but did not specifically name the hotels.
When asked if Baha Mar is among those with delinquent accounts, Miller said, "All of them. All of the hotels out west".
Miller said BEC can no longer allow the hotels to remain delinquent.
"It is imperative that we now try and collect as much as we can from the major hotels in this country," he said.
"They owe us an enormous amount of money that we need to collect.
"Right now, we are in a very, very tight situation with our major [fuel] supplier.
"We owe them in excess of $100 million right now and we've got to come up with about $55 million to enable us to get our next supply of fuel.
"I am asking those major hotels, they know who they are, to assist us in getting these funds to enable us to defray the cost for the fuel.
"If not, we are going to be in serious trouble. We do not want to revert to getting funding, but we are in a tight situation right now.
"We are asking all of our customers to assist us as best they can, but the hotels are the ones that have some big money outstanding.
"It is time now that they come and sit with us and give us the checks that are necessary to enable us not to turn them off.
"If not, I think this week, we are not going to have any choice except to send the message that the woman in Bain Town and in the Grove is no different from the hotels.
"In fact, she should be given more preference than the major entities."
In June, The Nassau Guardian revealed that Miller and one of his family-owned businesses collectively owed BEC nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
After that revelation, one of Miller's relatives made a $100,000 cash payment on the account.
Despite his own failure to pay his bill, Miller has repeatedly threatened delinquent commercial consumers.
Miller said the hotel owners and management will run to the prime minister and deputy prime minister to reverse his decision if it comes to that, but BEC has to take action.
He said the corporation was drafting letters, requesting that the hotels meet with BEC officials and come to terms.
He said those letters were expected to be sent out yesterday.
"If we do not get a response, we will make a decision to terminate their services until they come in a deal with us," Miller said.
"I realize they are going to run to the government, the prime minister and the deputy prime minister, but I see them really as being no different from ordinary Bahamians, who are catching eternal hell in this country."
He said he understands some hotels are experiencing financial challenges.
But he insisted that those hotels must pay something and arrange a payment plan.
When contacted for comment, Robert "Sandy" Sands, senior vice president, administration and external affairs at Baha Mar, said the hotel does not discuss its internal affairs.
Pressed on whether Baha Mar has outstanding arrears with the corporation, Sands declined to comment.
Calls placed to officials at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort and SuperClubs Breezes were not returned up to press time.
It is unclear whether these hotels are among those that have significant arrears.
When pressed for specifics on the matter, Miller said, "All the hotels in this country owe us money, except for Atlantis.
"Atlantis is our best payer. Atlantis pays us in excess of $5 million per month, and I thank God for Atlantis," he said.
"They are the type of corporate citizen that is wanted and needed in this country. So is Rupert Roberts (Super Value owner).
"But the [other] hotels have become delinquent to the point where it is hurting the financial capability of BEC.
"When it gets to that point, you either sit with us, work it out and give us a check, or we will terminate the service."
Miller said BEC has no intention of requesting any funds from the government when it can collect on the more than $185 million in accounts receivables.
Miller has previously threatened to disconnect major hotels and large commercial consumers over their arrears.
It is unclear whether his latest threat will lead to disconnections.
Miller's renewed threat came a day after he announced the corporation is in the process of purchasing six new generators.
He did not say how much the generators will cost.
BEC has been plagued with a series of failed generators, forcing it to load shed this summer.
Nassau, Bahamas - In
response to the withdrawal of labor of the members of The Bahamas
Electrical Workers Union (BEWU), The Bahamas Electricity Corporation
advises its customers in New Providence and the Family Islands that it
has contingency measures in place to ensure that any action on the part
of the union does not severely impact the Corporation's operations.
further informs the public that the action of the junior employees of
the Corporation is illegal and; therefore, in breach of the industrial
relations agreement and is in direct contravention of the labor laws of
The Bahamas.The Corporation encourages the BEWU that, as with any
employee related matter, to employ all
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE Bahamas could save a collective $5 billion by implementing energy efficiency and renewable supply sources within the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's (BEC) service area, a government policy paper has projected, with alternative energies targeted to produce 30 per cent of all power by 2030.
The National Energy Policy Committee's second report, completed in September 2010, concluded that by pursuing a combination of energy efficiency measures and increased use of renewable power sources, reducing the Bahamas' almost 100 per cent dependency on fossil fuels, "a sustainable energy matrix can be achieved by 2030".
This matrix, the ...
With up to 50 per cent of its client base responsible for racking up $100 million in accounts receivables, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has decided to commence mass disconnections across the Bahamas, its executive chairman told Tribune Business yesterday.
Michael Moss said almost $60 million is owed to BEC by residential and private sector clients, while the remaining $40 million worth of arrears is owed by government and public sector agencies.
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation's (BEC) chairman, Michael Moss, yesterday shot down it owes Morton Salt more than $1 million for fuel supplies to its Inagua generating facilities, stating that the figure was "totally out of whack with reality".
Mr Moss told Tribune Business yesterday: "All I can say is we sell electricity to Morton in Inagua, and Morton provides us with fuel. So, one party owes for electricity provided, and another party from time to time owes the other party for fuel.
"Those figures seem totally out of whack with reality, and is totally out of line with what I would have a ...
Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said yesterday that Prime Minister Perry Christie should be the last person to talk about climate change or the environment.
Cash was responding to Christie's recent climate change address before the United Nations (UN) in New York.
"We give him credit for that symbolic gesture; it was a step forward; the words sounded great on the world stage," Cash said in a statement.
"However, here at home, the prime minister's actions or in this case, inactions, speak louder than words."
Cash pointed to environmental concerns raised during the dredging related to Resorts World Bimini's Superfast ferry.
"On top of this, the sustained fires at the public dump and the related school closures and health problems point to a government asleep at the switch or intentionally turning a blind eye to environmental destruction," he said.
"These blemishes on the Christie record were noticeably absent from the UN speech."
During his speech, Christie called on the leaders of developed countries to honor their commitment to provide $100 billion yearly to combat climate change, adding that The Bahamas expects its "fair share".
Christie also called for the acceleration of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) so that funds can be disbursed by next year. The GCF is a mechanism that is used to transfer money from the developed world to the underdeveloped world.
Cash said Christie's ineffectiveness in ensuring order and focus in regards to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's (BEC) long-term mission and structure, diminishes his credibility on energy reform and environmental matters.
Cash added that the government's "lackadaisical response to the recent spate of major oil leaks sends a clear message of lack of seriousness".
A significant amount of oil washed onto Adelaide Beach on September 11.
Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin has said the ministry suspects the oil may have been discharged from a tanker that was out to sea. She said a team from the Department of Environmental Health quickly responded to the spill to ascertain its impact on the environment.
Free National Movement Chairman Carl Bethel yesterday called the nearly quarter of a million dollar debt the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has with the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas(BCB) 'shameful'."I was flabbergasted to see the report indicating that a default judgment had been entered against the Progressive Liberal Party for nearly a quarter of a million dollars owed to the Broadcasting Corporation," said Bethel in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
"It's one thing for members to stand in Parliament and call for the government to have financial probity, and to pay the bills of the government and to manage the economy and to manage the nation's finances appropriately, but on the other hand for them to sit there and know that they owe a quarter of a million dollars, or roughly, to the public broadcasting corporation is absolutely shameful."
The Nassau Guardian reported yesterday that the judgment in default came after the PLP failed to enter an appearance in the matter.
According to invoices the corporation provided the court, the debt was racked up by various party branches, and also the party's national convention committee.
As reported yesterday, PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts acknowledged the court matter and said the claim by the corporation arises from the party's last national convention.
"It would appear that the corporation is attempting to also collect from our party debts which were incurred by individuals without the knowledge or approval of the party, some of which we understand may date back to 1992," Roberts also said.
Bethel wondered what example of fiscal discipline the PLP could be sending to the Bahamian people by failing to settle the debt.
The BCB claims in court documents thatthe PLP paid the corporation $20,000 on May 15, 2007 with a view to making installment payments against its outstanding balance in due course.
However, the party never made further payments, according to a court document filed in August.
"Of course, we know that everybody can't afford to pay what they owe one time,"Bethel said.
"And it would be unreasonable sometimes to expect that. That is why you see the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, and [other entities] such as the Bahamas Telecommunications Company making settlement packages available for hard-pressed Bahamians in hard economic times.
"I am sure that had the Progressive Liberal Party indicated that they wished to have some facility, they could have gone into the Broadcasting Corporation at anytime, arranged the facility and discharged their obligation."
Bethel said a corporation is not going to sue unless it is confronted with a total failure of a customer to respond to an obligation.
The Nassau Guardian confirmed that the PLP's debt with ZNS is the largest owed by any single customer to the Broadcasting Corporation.
The FNM chairman said any responsible'government in waiting'should set the right example by paying outstanding debts to public corporations.
Roberts said on Wednesday that the party will move swiftly to have the judgment in default of appearance set aside.
"The party will thereafter move to bring closure on this matter," he said.
There is a kind of madness taking grip in this country on certain matters relative to governance, the functioning of our institutions and the things we as Bahamians are asked to accept.
Nowhere has this been more on display in recent weeks than in the developments that flowed after The Nassau Guardian disclosed that Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Leslie Miller and his family-owned business owed the corporation $250,000.
Miller, of course, is not the only person who owes the corporation. There are also many businesses that owe substantial sums, we are told.
We revisit this matter this week because it is no doubt Miller's hope and that of the government that it will go away.
But it remains a matter deserving of attention.
Prime Minister Perry Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, who has ministerial responsibility for BEC, continue to remain silent after confirmation from BEC that its policy was violated when cashiers accepted a cash payment of more than $10,000 on the bill.
BEC's policy is that no cash payments are to be accepted over that amount.
Sources within the corporation confirmed that $100,000 was paid in cash.
This has not been denied by Miller or any government official.
Asked to confirm whether the payment was made in cash, the deputy prime minister told us, "I don't know how it was paid. I just know $100,000 was paid."
When we raised this matter again with Miller last week Sunday, he was annoyed that we were still pushing the point.
In a stunning statement to The Tribune, Miller said, "money is money".
The newspaper said Miller informed that he was also unaware of BEC's policy not to accept more than $10,000 cash because many "businesses have done it before".
"Money is money," he reportedly told The Tribune. "I didn't know what the policy was. If they came to my business and gave me money, paid me in cash, I would thank them again and again.
"Institutions in this country have done this before. These are petty things (that are) causing the Bahamian people to be sidetracked from what is really happening at the corporation and all the good that is being done.
"The people that are attacking me and my family are nameless, but I have a name and they are coming for me. I do not need them to like me, my record speaks for itself."
What Miller does not understand is questions relating to that $100,000 are legitimate questions.
This does not represent an attack on him or his family.
The implications of this matter being swept under the rug may be great.
It is not accepted business practice to deal in large sums of money, hence the BEC policy.
The chairman's statement that he did not know what the policy is, is startling.
The prime minister and the deputy prime minister should not accept this as an explanation.
And we the people should not accept the deputy prime minister's statement that he does not know how the money was paid.
It is the chairman's obligation to know the corporation's policies, and it is the DPM's obligation to look into the matter of this payment.
If we say we are serious about protecting the reputation of our jurisdiction, then we must at all times adhere to the highest international standards as they relate to financial transactions.
The world is watching. What signal is the government sending to the international community?
To be clear, we make no suggestions on the source of the $100,000 paid to BEC.
But we do question our disregard for standards relating to the handling of large sums of money.
This is not a petty matter.
We expected Leslie Miller to react in the manner in which he acted.
Miller is a well-liked politician who has endeared himself to the common man.
But he has attracted controversy during his years in public life and has created one embarrassing situation after the next for Christie.
At the start of the first Christie administration, Miller, who was then a minister, fueled a firestorm over firings at the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC).
He was later caught up in multiple other controversies.
We are reminded of a statement an American diplomat attributed to Prime Minister Christie in 2005.
"Some ministers, were brought into the Cabinet because of their qualifications; others, like Minister Miller, were included in an effort, at times unsuccessful, to keep an eye on what they're doing," Christie allegedly said.
We wonder now whether Christie, by his silence, is seeking to avoid a fall-out with Miller over that $100,000 cash payment, and the fact that the chairman owed the corporation so much money while demanding other businesses stay current.
We raise this issue again this week to say again that our general lack of adherence to standards and the prime minister and deputy prime minister's silence are appalling.
Almost 25 middle managers of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation staged a lunchtime protest in front of BEC’s Tucker Road head office yesterday, as tensions continued to mount over a number of job related issues.
President of the Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU) Ervin Dean said if their demands are not met by executive management they would have to escalate their actions.
Dean said while they would not resort to sabotage, executive management will start to see some “things happening” unless BEC agrees to adhere to the union’s industrial agreement, properly compensate the workers and rescind changes that were made to their pension plan.
The uni ...
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation (BEC) should make around $5 million in net income for its just-closed 2011 financial year, its chairman yesterday saying the improvement on the less than-$1 million yield in 2010 showed it was headed towards recovery.
"I expect there to be a slight improvement in profitability over what we saw last year. I expect a profit to the order of $5 million," Michael Moss said.
"I don't have numbers yet to see if it's going to be in line with that expectation, but certainly I expect it to be more than $1 million. The road to recovery has started."
Mr Moss added: ...
About half of Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) customers who signed up for the former administration's electricity reconnection and payment plan program ahead of the 2012 general election did not need to utilize it to the extent they did, and have ultimately had a negative impact on the power provider's bottom line, according to BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller.
Miller said the program, which was intended to provide relief and generate revenue from delinquent and returning customers, had the opposite effect because many households who could afford their bills, spread their payments out over the full length of the program.
More than 5,000 households that were without electricity had their supply restored after registering for the up to three-year plan which was launched on February 9 last year. Reconnection fees were also waived to the tune of $80,000.
"Persons in the upper income bracket latched onto that provision that the government offered and decided that, 'If I have a bill of $3,000 I will pay my bill over a three-year period'," Miller told reporters on Thursday.
"Now it was really intended for the less fortunate among us and those who really couldn't afford [it] - those mothers, who are out there struggling with their children, who work in the hotel, and who really could afford the added cost of electricity - it was meant for them.
"However, because it was straight across the board, all Bahamians took advantage of it to the detriment of BEC."
Miller added: "It was wide open, so the fellow who lives in Winton, the fellow who lives out West Bay Street, those who live in these gated communities...benefitted from it more probably than the small man did because he decided, 'If I have a bill of $5,000, what the hell? I'll just let it run over 36-months.' And that had a serious impact on BEC's cash flow."
Miller said management is in the process of restructuring that program, shifting those who can afford to pay more on a more "restricted program".
"Certainly someone in a high economic bracket should not get 36 months to pay, say a $10,000 bill or a $24,000 bill for that bracket," he said.
"...Those less fortunate may still go on the three-year plan or that may be really reconfigured for a 24-month period.
"Those who can afford to pay will probably go on a 12- to 18-month [payment] period to enable them to pay their bills at BEC."
Miller said BEC's receivables are in excess of $40 million.
DISRUPTIONS to power supply, which affected several areas of New Providence yesterday, was not the result of load shedding expected during summer months.
In a press statement, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) also advised that scheduled repairs to several generators at the Clifton Pier Power Station will be completed ahead of the summer in an effort to meet demand.
The corporation said that the short term interruptions between 10am and 1pm were an "unforeseen generation shortfall" after a larger generator was taken offline for maintenance.
The statement read: "There was sufficient capacity to sustain operations until the generator returned to service. Unfortunately, tw ...
History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future. - Robert Penn Warren
As we noted in parts I and II of this series, the march to Majority Rule in The Bahamas can be characterized by two words: sustained struggle.
On January 10, we quietly celebrated the first public holiday to commemorate the day that Majority Rule came to The Bahamas in 1967. It was a life-changing event that catapulted the lives of many thousands to unimaginable heights. Last week we reviewed three important milestones in the march to Majority Rule that helped to create the framework for the attainment of that achievement: the by-election of 1938, the Burma Road Riot of 1942, and the Contract beginning in 1943. This week and in the final week in January, we will continue to Consider This...what were some of the major milestones that contributed to the centuries-long march to Majority Rule?
The 1950s were decisively transformative on the march to Majority Rule. It was a decade that witnessed the formation of the PLP in 1953, the 1956 Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the House of Assembly and the 1958 General Strike.
The formation of the PLP
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was established in 1953, following an attempt by the Citizens' Committee to actively address some of the rampant discriminatory practices by the white Nassau elite. The Citizens' Committee, formed in December 1950 initially protested the government's refusal to let Bahamians view three films: "No Way Out" (starring Bahamian actor Sidney Poitier), "Lost Boundaries" and "Pinky" all of which addressed societal injustices. Many of the members of the Citizens' Committee, which was led by Maxwell Thompson, Cleveland Eneas, and A. E. Hutchinson and whose members included Jackson Burnside, Randol Fawkes, Gerald Cash, Kendal Isaacs, Marcus Bethel and other prominent personalities, suffered brutal discrimination and many of its members were deprived of the ability to earn a living by the Bay Street oligarchy as a result of their social activism.
In October, 1953 the PLP was formed by Henry Taylor (who would become the third Bahamian governor general in an Independent Bahamas from June 26, 1988 to January 1, 1992), William Cartwright and Cyril Stevenson with a platform that responded to the challenge by Rev. H. H. Brown that: "The Progressive Liberal Party hopes to show that your big man and your little man, your black, brown and white man of all classes, creed and religions in this country can combine and work together in supplying sound and successful political leadership which has been lacking in The Bahamas."
The PLP made bold progressive promises for a more equitable social structure including equal opportunities for all Bahamians, better education, universal suffrage, stronger immigration policies, lower-cost housing and the development of agriculture and the Out Islands.
In the early days of the PLP, its members were subjected to abject ostracism and victimization by the white elite, including the loss of jobs and bank credit, as well as canceled contracts. In 1955, Lynden Pindling and Milo Butler emerged as the leaders of the party, appealing to the black masses to mobilize in advance of the general elections of 1956. The party also attracted Randol Fawkes, the founder of the Bahamas Federation of Labour in May 1955.
The general election of May 1956 was the first to be fought by an organized political party. The PLP won six seats in the House of Assembly, four in Nassau and two in Andros. That election significantly accelerated the march to Majority Rule. In March 1958 the white oligarchy formed themselves into the second organized political unit, the United Bahamian Party (UBP). The UBP would later disband and its members would join forces with the Free National Movement (FNM) in 1972.
The 1956 Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the House of Assembly
In the wake of rampant racial discrimination that prevented access for black people to hotels, movie theatres, restaurants, and other public places, H. M. Taylor, the chairman of the PLP, whose platform vowed to eliminate racial discrimination in the colony, tabled a number of questions to the leader of the government.
Moved by this and in light of his own disgust with racially motivated practices, in January 1956, Etienne Dupuch, the editor of the Nassau Tribune and a member of the House of Assembly for the eastern district, tabled an Anti-Discrimination Resolution in the House of Assembly. During his passionately eloquent speech on the resolution, the speaker of the House of Assembly ordered Dupuch to take his seat, threatening, if he refused to do so, that he would be removed from the chamber by the police. Dupuch responded: "You may call the whole Police Force, you may call the whole British Army...I will go to [jail] tonight, but I refuse to sit down, and I am ready to resign and go back to the people." The speaker abruptly suspended the House proceedings.
Although the resolution was supported by H. M. Taylor, Bert Cambridge, Eugene Dupuch, C.R. Walker, Marcus Bethel, and Gerald Cash, it was referred to a select committee, effectively killing it. However, the following day, most of the Nassau hotels informed the public that they would open their doors to all, regardless of their race.
The 1958 General Strike
The General Strike began in January 1958 after several months of tension that arose because of the government's plans to allow hotels and tour buses that were owned by the established white tour operators to provide transport for visitors to and from the airport, at the expense of predominantly black taxi drivers who made a large portion of their living transporting tourists between the new Windsor Field (Nassau International) Airport and downtown hotels. To allow the hotels and tour companies to supplant the taxi drivers would severely curtail the ability of black taxi drivers to earn a decent living.
The government learned that the taxi drivers would vehemently protest this arrangement when they blockaded the new airport on the day it opened. On that day, nearly 200 union taxi drivers stopped all business at the airport for 36 hours, showing their determination to protest the government's plans. Negotiations on 20 points ensued between the union, represented by Lynden Pindling and Clifford Darling, the union's president, and the government for the following eight weeks, but broke off after they could not agree on one final point.
On January 11, 1958 the taxi union voted for a general strike and the next day the General Strike commenced with the cessation of work at hotels, which was supported by hotel and construction workers, garbage collectors, bakers, airport porters and employees of the electricity corporation. The strike lasted until January 31 and prompted a visit to the colony by the secretary of state for the colonies who recommended constitutional and political and electoral reforms which were incorporated into the General Election Act of 1959. Following the General Strike, male suffrage was introduced for all males over 21 years of age and the company vote was abolished.
Undoubtedly, the General Strike accentuated the ability of effective reform that could be achieved by the peaceful mobilization of the black majority.
Next week, we will review the decade of the 1960s and discuss how the Women's Suffrage Movement, the 1962 general elections and Black Tuesday culminated in the eventual attainment of Majority Rule with the general elections of 1967.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A wind power company has built a test facility in Eleuthera to show its financiers that technology will pay dividends in the Family Islands.
Eleuthera Wind Power Ltd., a joint venture between WINSO Company Limited and Schneider Power Caribbean, has just completed the first phase of a project that will ultimately provide energy for the Tarpum Bay Desalination Plant.
The Bahamas Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) signed a 20-year power-purchase agreement with the wind farm that is expected to reduce its energy bill by 25 percent.
While the firms "meteorological tower" will measure wind energy over the next 12 months, the CEO of WINSO Company expects they'll have everything they need to know within six.
"None of the financiers will give you money unless you do your own independent study," Vincent Macdonald told Guardian Business.
"Right now the wind is very strong. What we are looking for is consistency to give us the return we're looking for. It'll tell us exactly how much power we'll have month to month."
The Eleuthera wind farm, expected to cost $2 million upon completion, is just one of six other sister facilities being planned on other Family Islands, including Inagua, Bimini and Abaco.
Eleuthera Wind Power Ltd. has signed preliminary agreements with WSC to supply a similar amount of power to other desalination plants.
The total build out and investment will be up to $15 million.
Macdonald said all of the data currently being assembled will be shared with the Bahamas Meteorology Department.
"It is a very important step. It will show the seriousness of our group and our commitment to the government and the country to reduce energy costs to desalination plants," he explained.
WINSO Company has already cleared the eventual site for the full facility. The first tower will measure wind speed, direction, air pressure and temperature.
Thomas Schneider, the president of Scheider Power, said his discussions with the Bahamian government have given him the confidence to invest in renewable energy in the country.
The residents of Eleuthera and other Family Islands will gain more knowledge and intellectual property in the emerging sector.
In New Providence, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation has signed an understanding with Ocean Thermal Engineering Corporation to build two plants on the island and buy power for use among the general public.
Schneider said the wind farms will further "showcase" the country's potential for renewable energy and create jobs, tax revenue, lower electricity costs and energy security in the process.
Former Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour yesterday suggested that the government is wasting money on the international consultants who were brought in to determine the parties responsible for the latest oil spill in waters in Southwestern New Providence.
Neymour insisted that the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is the source of the leak. He said the government should use its money to address oil leak sites at BEC's Clifton Pier Plant.
However, BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said while BEC is partly to blame, it is not the only entity that is culpable.
"The oil is not only BEC's," Miller said.
"When the analysis was done, it proved that you also had jet fuel oil."
There has been increased concern about the contamination at Clifton after several reported oil spills in the past several months.
Two weeks ago, the government engaged consultants from Coastal Systems International Inc., which is a U.S. environmental firm, to determine the source of the recent oil spill and to recommend remedial clean up.
When The Guardian visited Clifton last week, oil was spilling over BEC's waste oil tanks and into trenches that lead into the sea.
Neymour accused Miller of covering up the cause of the oil spills at Clifton Pier.
"You can see the level of contamination that exists at BEC and their failure to even attempt to clean it up or even conceal it," he said pointed to trenches that were saturated with oil.
"This is oil that the Bahamian people are paying on their fuel surcharge every month, that they are pouring into the ground. This is clearly a dereliction of duty of both the minister of environment and the chairman."
He said he suspects that millions of gallons of oil have been lost and suggested that authorities are not doing anything to stop it.
"They should immediately take action and admit to the Bahamian people what is going on," Neymour said.
However, Miller said the government is preparing to clean up the Clifton area. He said the consultants from Coastal Systems International Inc. are preparing an initial report, which would detail the action that needs to be taken to prevent future spills and to clean up the area.
Miller denied that he or anyone from the government is covering up oil spills.
He also pointed out that oil spills were also reported when Neymour was minister under the previous administration.
Neymour said when he was minister he directed BEC to establish an oil spill response unit and put in place other appropriate prevention measures.
Earlier this month, Dorsett revealed that BEC's containment booms at the Clifton Pier Plant have not been as effective as they should be.
"The BEC containment booms were not preventing all of the fuel emitted into the marine environment from spreading," he said. "It also appeared that fuel was being discharged from one of the outfalls."
Miller added that BEC recently ordered new containment booms to replace the ones that have been ineffective.
Dorsett suggested that once investigations are complete, "... No one is going to be off the hook when it comes to doing what is right, whether it is BEC or private stakeholders."
Nassau, Bahamas - The
Bahamas Electricity Corporation advises that it has completed the
restoration of electricity supply to the more than 99% of customers in
New Providence following the adverse weather conditions experienced on
Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
is a small area of Yamacraw Beach Estates where supply remains
disconnected due to standing water levels. BEC crews are working in
conjunction with the Ministry of Works to complete an assessment of the
area and will restore electricity supply as soon as it safe.
The Lyford Cay Property Association is "likely" to become a member of the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay (CPCB).
As exclusively revealed by Guardian Business in February, the association announced that the government appears "inclined" to grant Peter Nygard a lease of accreted land surrounding his property at Nygard Cay. It now seems that members of the community have taken their opposition to the next level.
"I think it is likely we will become a member. The environmental issues effect Clifton and our community,"said Philip Dunkley, head of Lyford Cay Property Association.
"We have looked at everything they have put together. It seems like something we should support."
Support for the coalition is also forming in other property circles.
Franon Wilson, president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA), said he did not wish to comment specifically on Nygard's case.
However, speaking in general terms, anyone that expands property beyond what was legitimately paid for should be kept in check by both the private and public sector.
"The bottom line is people should go out and inspect. If you go past a certain point and expand beyond your bounders, then that has implications," Wilson told Guardian Business. "There are things you can and can't do. And that is one of the things you can't do."
Back in February, a letter to members of the Lyford Cay Property Association stated that the government "may be inclined to accede to Mr Nygard's application" in the near future.
It went on to note that government indicated it would become more vigilant to prevent any future reclamation of lands.
The issue has been in and out of the courts in recent years.
According to a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court on April 6, 2011, Tex Turnquest, then director of the Department of Lands and Surveys, informed Nygard that the government expected him to reinstate the coastline of the property to its condition at the time of the 1984 deed, when he first purchased the western tip of Lyford Cay.
Nygard's attorneys have argued, however, that additional land formed as a result of the gradual and imperceptible deposit of materials from the ocean onto land.
The fashion mogul sought a declaration that the lands have become part of the freehold property.
Recent statements by the Lyford Cay Property Association could indicate that the issue is swinging in Nygard's favor.
The coalition, however, appears ready for a fight.
"You can be sure the coalition will be active," Dunkley added.
Fred Smith, a top attorney with Callenders & Co, has joined forces with the coalition for legal support. The alliance could indicate that the coalition is prepared to fight any ruling on the property.
Dunkley pointed out that the Nygard issue is not the only problem for Clifton Bay. The Bahamas Electricity Corporation has long been criticized for poor environmental standards at one of its main power plants in the area.
From the air, a sheen of oil can reportedly be seen on most days along the coast and heading out to sea.
In a recent trip to The Bahamas, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. threw his support behind the coalition as it relates to the pollution coming out of Clifton Pier and its destruction to the reef system.
A leading downtown developer said he would personally welcome proposed Chinese investment in downtown Nassau, arguing that the area is in desperate need of "a catalyst" for development.
Downtown Nassau Partnership (DNP) Co-chair Charles Klonaris responded to the fact that Chinese state-owned entities are considering major renewal projects in the downtown area.
Guardian Business sources yesterday confirmed that Baha Mar's general contractor, China State Construction and Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), had presented an "impressive" master plan for the redevelopment of Downtown Nassau as a whole. The corporation is also currently a frontrunner to buy the British Colonial Hilton.
Klonaris, himself a major investor in the downtown area, dismissed concerns over foreign influence in the area, stating that the present state of East Bay Street demonstrates the urgency of further development and renovation.
"What I would say to those who oppose potential Chinese development is that they should walk down Bay Street, east of East Street, and you will see a desolate, deprived and abandoned part of our city.
"We need a catalyst to raise the level of our thinking and provide a space for young, educated Bahamians. We need these heavy players to think beyond day-to-day operations of what Nassau currently is. Right now what we see is a reflection of who we are as Bahamians," stated Klonaris.
The proposed foreign involvement in renovating downtown has generated polarized responses from the business community.
Speaking with Guardian Business, Shadow Minister for Finance Peter Turnquest argued that, while further developments for the area were sorely needed, the country needed to promote local investment.
"The development of downtown Nassau is and has been a unique Bahamian experience. Yes, it needs upgrades, and yes, it needs further development in what it offers to the Bahamian public as well as the tourist.
"However, given the right set of incentives and promotion of an encouraging environment, the Bahamian investors and entrepreneurs who are owners and stakeholders in the area will do their part in fulfilling a coordinated vision," stated Turnquest.
Turnquest further claimed that significant foreign direct investment (FDI) in the area would strip the country of control.
"If they do not feel that they do not the resources to make the development happen then that is unfortunate, but...in wholesale allowing foreign entities to own or do all the heavy lifting we give up a certain degree of control," said Turnquest.
Aside from bidding for the British Colonial Hilton, CSCEC has an equity interest in Baha Mar and is widely believed to be a bidder for a contract under the Bahamas Electricity Corporation request for proposal.
However, Klonaris, who is also the owner and developer of the Elizabeth on Bay Marketplace and Marina, claimed that foreign direct investment was often necessary, and dispelled fears over the effect of foreign involvement on the area's cultural heritage.
"I'm not concerned with the vision if it fits in with Nassau's heritage. I honestly think they'll do a better job of preserving our architecture...and taking into account all of the elements of downtown."
The $14 million Elizabeth on Bay plaza, which would stand to benefit from the proposed developments, has faced challenges partly due to its location, argued Klonaris.
"It's challenging. There are a lot of issues that have to be resolved, but I see more demand in terms of rentals for the plaza, and increased traffic down East Street," said Klonaris, adding that foreign development could help realize the area's full commercial potential.
"There's a lot of potential in adding to the city. The only thing I see is something very positive and for those concerned with foreigners [investing] downtown, I don't buy that."