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In our reading we came across a letter to then President-elect Ronald Reagan from his Coordinating Committee on Economic Policy which we thought sheds some light on where we are as a country today some 30-plus years later.
We have up-dated the letter to reflect the issues and challenges facing The Bahamas and made some specific recommendations to our prime minister. The quotations herein include our modifications to that letter in our context.
Today The Bahamas faces many challenges. To some, the task seems daunting. But if we review history around the world, we would be surprised as to how similar the problems are, and as such the solutions can also be similar.
The late 1970s were also a time of great economic anxiety fed by a runaway government, spending out of control, taxes that were too high, regulations that were too burdensome, high unemployment, increasing healthcare costs and increasing energy costs.
As we have time and time again reiterated in these pages, what we need to do is develop a consistent long-term focus that does not change with the temperature of the electorate or the latest fad. The need for a long-term point of view is essential to allow for the time, the coherence, and the predictability so necessary for success.
As they wrote to Reagan: "The need for a long-term point of view is essential to allow for the time, the coherence, and the predictability so necessary for success."
We believe this is appropriate advice to our prime minister today.
We would recommend that the prime minister assembles his advisors and focuses on implementing his reforms in his first year, and then they ride out the various storms confident that the policies would work in the long run. Similar policies in other developed nations have resulted in a boom for their economies.
We believe a 180-degree change in the present economic policy is an absolute necessity. The problems of increasing government spending and debt, low national savings, declining government revenue, increasing inflation and slow growth, falling standards of living, declining productivity, declining education and increasing healthcare costs, are severe but they are not intractable. Having been produced by
government policy, they can be addressed by a change in policy.
Prime minister, you articulated an impressive array of promises during the election. They will take time. But more importantly, to be achieved you must think long-term. We invite you to have your Council of Economic Advisors (as you suggested you would) study, develop and recommend guiding principles, on priorities and linkages among policy areas, and on the problems of getting action.
You have identified in the campaign a list of key issues and policies during your first 100 days (which we would not list here) necessary to restore hope and confidence in a better economic future. This requires fundamental policy changes that may take more than five years, but should result in a sound and growing economy.
The advisors to Reagan suggested some "guiding principles" which we have amended for our prime minister:
"The essence of good policy is good strategy. Some strategic principles can guide your new administration as it charts its course."
"Timing and preparation are critical aspects of strategy. The fertile moment may come suddenly and evaporate as quickly. The administration that is well prepared is ready to act when the time is ripe. The transition period and the early months of the new administration are a particularly fertile period. The opportunity to set the tone for your administration must be seized by putting the fundamental policies into place immediately and decisively."
"The need for a long-term point of view is essential to allow for the time, the coherence, and the predictability so necessary for success. This long-term view is as important for day-to-day problem solving as for the making of large policy decisions. Most decisions in government are made in the process of responding to problems of the moment. The danger is that this daily firefighting can lead the policymaker farther and farther from his goals. A clear sense of guiding strategy makes it possible to move in the desired direction in the unending process of contending with issues of the day. Many failures of government can be traced to an attempt to solve problems piecemeal. The resulting patchwork of ad hoc solutions often makes such fundamental goals as price stability, economic growth, affordable healthcare and housing more difficult to achieve."
"Challenges that your government must face are linked by their substance and their root causes."
As we have written on many occasions, measures adopted to deal with one problem will inevitably have effects on others. It is as important to recognize these interrelationships, as it is to recognize the individual problems themselves.
"Consistency in policy is critical to effectiveness. Individuals and business enterprises plan on a long-range basis. They need to have an environment in which they can conduct their affairs with confidence."
You have announced your goals and policies during the election. Your administration should commit itself to their achievement, and should seek Parliament's commitment to them as well. Then the public as well as the government would know what to expect.
"The administration should be candid with the public. It should not over-promise, especially with respect to the speed with which the policies adopted can achieve the desired results."
Seizing the initiative
"The fundamental areas of economic strategy concern the budget, taxation, regulation, and monetary policy. Prompt action in each of these areas is essential to establish both your resolve and your capacity to achieve your goals."
For the most part, you have inherited a budget which perhaps was near completion, hence allowing you little room to make substantive policy changes save for some tweaking given the late stage of the process.
"You must convince the financial markets and the public at large that your economic policy is more than rhetoric. The public and especially the financial community are skeptical and need a startling demonstration of resolve".
You have made key Cabinet appointments but this won't be enough. The business community will be watching to see whether you are serious about decreasing the budget deficit and how you propose to grow the revenue base without any increase in taxes given the current fiscal structure.
Everyone will be watching to see where cuts are made and revenue measures are address. Our interest payment as a percent of government revenue continues to grow at an alarming rate. Prompt and strong action is necessary if these budgets are to be brought under control, as they must be. The nation can no longer afford governmental business as usual.
"The formal budget alone is far from the whole story, though it is visible and important. Off-budget financing and government guarantees mount and expand programs through the use of the government's borrowing capacity, draining the nation's resources without being adequately recorded in the formal spending totals. In addition, the mandating of private expenditures for government purposes should be limited. Efforts to control spending should be comprehensive; otherwise, good work in one area will be negated in another. And these efforts should be part of the administration's development of a long-term strategy."
Hopefully once the Council of Economic Advisors is appointed, one of its first mandates will be to identify an extensive list of areas for potential savings, but it will be up to your administration to implement the recommendations.
To borrow from the United States, we should consider the appointment of a budget director along with an Office of Management and Budget, whose responsibility will be to assist you in developing and executing your policies and programs.
The OMB will evaluate the effectiveness of agency programs, policies and procedures, assesses competing funding demands among agencies and set funding priorities. The OMB will ensure that agencies or departments operate in conformity to your budget and administrative policies.
Tax policy is properly the province of the Ministry of Finance. You have assumed responsibility along with your junior minister. Given the overall economic health and our continued reliance on an antiquated system, which has serve us well, we believe one of your first orders should be a task force which takes a comprehensive review of our system of taxation with specific mandates and a time frame to report to you in with actionable recommendations. We cannot as a country continue to rely on the old system which is repressive.
Other key proposals are tax incentives for the establishment of economic zones that are consistent with your charter of governance.
The Bahamas lives in a global village with ever increasing regulatory changes that have and will continue to drive the way we conduct business. While we must adhere to international regulatory reforms, we must be mindful of their impact on The Bahamas. We must ensure that regulators' mandates are consistent with preserving our financial sector while working with industry to grow the sector.
The current regulatory overburden must be removed from the economy. We believe the appointment of a ministry for the financial sector is a step in the right direction and should better coordinate the various agencies towards a common purpose.
We have recommended in these pages before that we should move towards a consolidated regulator.
We are aware that steps have been taken in this direction. We urge your administration to complete the process. A consolidated regulator will enable your ministry to have consistent and clear understanding of the issues and challenges involved as we move our financial sector forward. The person heading up this effort will require your continued, wholehearted support.
Many of our economic problems today stem from the large and increasing proportion of economic decisions being made through the political process rather than the market process.
A comprehensive program needs to be developed with specific mandates and time lines to address the continued drain on the public treasury by the likes of ZNS, Bahamasair, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, Water and Sewerage, the Bahamas Development Bank, etc.
We have numerous examples of successful public-private partnerships, such as Bank of Bahamas, with no government support. The new boards should be given specific mandates to achieve specific economic targets with minimal social fall-out. The country cannot continue to support nearly $75 million per annum indefinitely.
We recommend, also, that the price control departments become more active to ensure the consuming public is not disadvantaged.
A steady and moderate rate of monetary growth is an essential to provide a healthy environment for economic growth. We must be careful, however, not to interfere and to ensure that all work toward a common goal.
The Central Bank is an independent agency. However, independence should not mean lack of accountability for what it does. The challenge is how to assume accountability while preserving independence. As we indicated before, monetary policy must be mindful of the full impact on the economy and not just one sector. Monetary policies have implications for budgetary and other economic policies.
The activities of a wide variety of departments, agencies, and other units of government affect economic policy.
As President-elect Ronald Reagan's Coordinating Committee on Economic Policy said many years ago: "The flow of economic events does not recognize organizational lines. The economy itself operates as a system in which constituent parts are linked, sometimes tightly. The combination of interwoven problems and disparate organizations means that, in the process of policy formulation and implementation, some people high in your administration must identify the central ideas and problems and devise a strategy and tactics for dealing with them. Your leadership is essential to this effort".
We support this position.
They went on to say: "Our final point is our most important one. The success of your economic policy will be a direct reflection of your ability to maintain a steady course over your full first term. Rough times will come and crises of one kind or another, some small, some of great moment, will arise. Sustained effort through these testing times means that public understanding and support are essential. Of equal and related importance is the understanding and support of the Congress."
Today, we can echo these same words and say that gaining public and parliamentary support are critical as you make some tough choices for the betterment of the country.
Sir today, much like the advice given back then to Reagan: "You have emphasized in your successful campaign precisely the strategy set forth in this document. In moving to implement it, you will be doing what the people voted for. Every effort must be made to maintain and broaden your base of support by improving public understanding, and close cooperation with the Parliament, Cabinet and others in your administration can help in these tasks. Their ability to do so should be one important criterion in their selection."
"At the end of the day, however, the burden of leadership falls on you: Leadership to chart the course ahead; leadership to persuade that your course is the one to take; leadership to stay on course, whatever way political winds may blow. Through effective advocacy of the sharp changes so sorely needed, your leadership has brought us to this long-hoped-for opportunity at a critical moment for the nation. Your leadership can maintain this advocacy in the convincing manner necessary for a successful outcome."
We wish you much success over the next five years as we address some serious pressing economic and social issues.
o CFAL is a sister company of The Nassau Guardian under the AF Holdings Ltd. umbrella. CFAL provides investment management, research, brokerage and pension services. For comments, please contact CFAL at: email@example.com.
Al Jarrett, the former outstanding infielder in baseball and softball, died around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Jarrett in the latter decades of his life here on Earth was known as a prominent financial expert. He became one of the Bahamian banking icons. Jarrett helped greatly to establish the fact that Bahamians had the expertise to function at the highest levels in banking institutions.
He was indeed a trailblazer in the banking industry. Jarrett assisted many other Bahamians and enabled them to progress in the industry. In more recent times, Jarrett regularly called into talk shows to put forth his view of the economic situation in the country. A national advocate, he remained to the end of his journey on this side of eternity passionately concerned about Bahamians being provided opportunities to advance economically in their own country. When he retired from private banking, Jarrett made valuable contributions as chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and the Bank of The Bahamas.
Prior to all of that, however, he was a noted athlete. Jarrett played in the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) during his earlier years and was excellent at shortstop. In fact, during his prime he was considered one of the top Bahamians at the position. There was of course Andre Rodgers, and then the rest inclusive of Jarrett. Jeff Williams remembers Jarrett quite well. He and the pleasantly loquacious Jarrett were similar, bankers and sportsmen.
"Man, Al was one of the best at short. He played both baseball and softball very well. At Deltec Bank, he was instrumental as we put together one of the best softball teams in the country. Al would certainly be noted for his profession in banking, but he was a sportsman as well," said Williams. Paul Moxey played with Jarrett and Williams on that Deltec Bank team.
"He played short and I played second base. The one think you knew about Al, apart from the fact that he was very opinionated, was that he was always willing to help you. He would assist however he could," said Moxey.
Media personality Wendall Jones was very somber when we chatted for a bit on Tuesday morning.
"He was my friend man, my friend. He was a good man," said Jones. Jarrett called in often to Jones' Love 97 radio talk show "Issues of the Day" and also appeared on television shows produced by the Jones Communication Network (JCN). It is my understanding that Jarrett was set to return to the chairmanship of the Bank of The Bahamas when he died.
I extend condolences to his wife and family. May his soul forever rest in peace!
To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prime Minister Perry G. Christie and his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government have a mammoth task ahead of them -- rescuing a dying economy.
I was alarmed after reading about the massive financial deficit the country finds itself in for the 2012/2013 fiscal period.
According to the prime minister and the Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis, the budget deficit is projected to be a staggering $500 million. That's over half a billion dollars. The Bahamian government collects approximately $1.5 billion in revenues per annum.
However, that is not enough to meet the financial obligations of an ever-expanding government.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, the PLP, while the official opposition, thought that this year's budget deficit was in the neighborhood of $300 million. But they had grossly underestimated the deficit by some $250 million.
The $500 million deficit is a clear indication that the former Free National Movement (FNM) government had overspent by the hundreds of millions in its effort to stimulate the sagging economy. According to one of the national dailies, the national debt will reach the $5 billion mark before the end of the upcoming 2012/2013 fiscal year. With a population of about 350,000, this means that each citizen is saddled with a debt of $14,285.
The Ingraham administration was emulating U.S. President Barack H. Obama's economic policy of pumping government money back into the economy in order to stimulate economic growth. Clearly, the financial advisors in the Obama administration are following the theory of the late British economist John Maynard Keynes.
After nearly three-and-half years in the Oval Office, it is now evident to all and sundry that Obama's fiscal policies have failed to get the U.S. out of the prolonged Great Recession.
Now there are fresh reports that the U.S. economy is slowing down again. This bad news couldn't have come at a more inopportune time for Obama, who will be seeking reelection in November against his GOP rival Mitt Romney. The Great Recession has already caused several incumbent governments around the world to fall over the past several years. The FNM government was no exception. It looks like the same fate awaits Obama. Even Red China, Brazil, India and many of the nations in Europe are now struggling financially.
According to a U.S. Internet daily, the jobless rate in that country has climbed to 8.2 percent. And this is not counting the millions of discouraged workers who have simply given up on looking for a job.
Even more alarming is a recent report stating that about half of American households are now receiving some form of government handout in other to make ends meet. The U.S. national debt is fast approaching $16.3 trillion.
It is projected to reach $17.5 trillion next year. Obama has added $5 trillion to the national debt since early 2009.
When the U.S. suffers, we suffer. Our economic health hinges on the state of the U.S. economy. Many American families have simply cut back on their spending.
Of course, this means that more and more Americans are not taking vacations the way they used to when the economy was buoyant.
With over 85 percent of our visitors coming from the U.S., it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the tourism sector has floundered in recent years. Many of the hotels in Grand Bahama are either closed or have scaled down.
One example is the Grand Lucayan Resort. This resort has three hotel properties, but only one is open for business, Breaker's Cay.
Even our financial services sector is a mere shadow of its past. The two main economic engines of our economy have struggled. Tourism and banking have carried this country for over 50 years. In fact, these two important industries, in their present forms, were created by the legendary Stafford Sands, The Bahamas' first tourism and finance minister in the United Bahamian Party government. He was the architect of the modern banking system and the year-round tourism industry. Since majority rule, no government has introduced any industry that has been able to have the kind of impact that tourism and banking have had on our economy. Not one. Our overdependence on tourism and banking has finally caught up with us. We have failed to diversify the economy. Now the chickens have come home to roost. Before majority rule, ours was mainly an agrarian society. But after 1968, many Bahamians began to view farming and weeding as Haitian work. We don't produce anything. Over 98 percent of our food products are imported from abroad.
I think that we have entered a new era. I believe that our way of life in this country will experience a radical change in the next decade or so. I also believe that our dollar will eventually be devalued, as was the case with Jamaica under the socialist Manley regime during the turbulent 1970s.
I think that the level of poverty in this country will continue to increase, despite the valiant efforts of the prime minister. Sooner or later, Prime Minister Christie will have to start entertaining thoughts of reducing the over bloated civil service.
With a population of 350,000, we have a staggering 25,000-odd persons on the government's payroll. What's more, we have government corporations like the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, Bahamasair and the Bahamas Water and Sewerage Corporation that are bleeding the Treasury dry. Obviously, with the nation in a financial mess, the government just cannot continue to allow these unprofitable entities to bankrupt this country. Tough measures will have to be taken by the prime minister.
In the last analysis, successive Bahamian administrations have been guilty of running deficits.
With tens of thousands of Bahamians in the civil service, successive governments had no other choice but to overspend.
The recent revelation by the prime minister concerning the financial state of the Treasury should cause every Bahamian to be concerned about the future state of our economy.
No matter what policies the Christie administration implements, the stubborn facts remain that ours is a service based economy that is overly dependent on the U.S. economy.
Outside factors have brought our economy to its knees. While it was politically expedient for the PLP during the past several years to downplay the gravity of the global financial meltdown and its negative impact on our economy, sooner or later the prime minister will have to admit to the nation that our economy has been negatively impacted by outside forces.
Between 2002 and 2007, the first Christie government created some 22,000 jobs, but Christie's first tenure as prime minister had coincided with the presidency of George W. Bush. The period between 2002 and 2007 saw great economic growth in the U.S., especially in the housing sector.
The first Christie regime was simply a beneficiary of the tremendous prosperity in the U.S. Now, however, the prime minister will have to contend with a recession which has baffled even the keenest financial minds on Wall Street, and he will have to deal with a president who believes in the Marxist theory of wealth redistribution.
Christie will soon discover that it is lonely at the top as the leader of this country, despite having a massive cabinet.
The eyes of the nation are on him now, not on any of his 20-plus cabinet ministers. They will be expecting him to do what he had promised on the campaign trail - fix the economy and create thousands of jobs. Frankly, I don't think that he will be able to avoid the coming economic armageddon. In fact, not even the mighty United States of America, China, Brazil, Japan, Europe and the former Ingraham administration have been able to do so.
- Kevin Evans
The head of a major "web shop" is applauding the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) for its pledge to address the gambling industry, arguing that regulation will add revenue to the public treasury.
Sebas Bastian, CEO at Island Luck, said the unregulated gambling industry already generates millions for the local economy each year. Island Luck, he added, pays out million for salaries, rentals and to the National Insurance Board (NIB) for contributions, contributing $20 million to the local economy.
Island Luck and its more than 3,000 employees already contribute to The Bahamas, and to deem the operation illegal is "insane", according to Bastian.
"The industry cannot continue to only be recognized as legal when we give out to the community, pay taxes, business license fees, national insurance and [when we are] taken to the labor board. Yet, we are deemed as illegal on the other hand? To me, that's insane," he said.
In last week's Speech from the Throne, it was revealed that the PLP government would hold a referendum for the Bahamian people to decide whether a national lottery should be instituted and whether web shop type gaming should be decriminalized.
The issue is controversial in The Bahamas. Some argue that if properly regulated, legal gaming could be a driver for the economy. However, the Christian community stands against any move to legalize any form of gambling for Bahamians and legal residents. Visitors can gamble legally in The Bahamas.
Winston Rolle, CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), told Guardian Business that if the national lottery and/or web shops are properly regulated, a higher level of tax should be paid to the public treasury by the sector.
"In regulating it, persons should also be looking to ensure that funds generated from it are properly allocated and channeled into specific areas where there are significant economic voids," Rolle explained.
"My concern would be over the proper structure and regulation so that we are setting up a regime that provides adequate tax returns and that whatever funds that are raised will be utilized to the benefit of the Bahamian people."
Rolle said that at this point, Bahamians are kidding themselves viewing gambling as being illegal.
Another leader in the web shop business was contacted by Guardian Business on the issue of legalizing the sector. However, the source declined to comment at this time, saying he will meet with the prime minister shortly on the issue.
For Bastian's part, he said there should be a recognition that the industry has a positive impact on Bahamians.
"For example, when the Atlantis resort decided to downsize its staff, we at Island Luck employed most of those displaced workers. Currently, we have more than 3,000 people employed," he said.
"We payout more than $6 million in rental property, $4 million in national insurance contributions per annum and more than $10 million is spent on utilities like the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and Cable Bahamas, along with supplies like paper. The funds generated are spent locally."
Monopolies are characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce the good or service and a lack of viable substitute goods. The verb "monopolize" refers to the process by which a company, like Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) and the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), gains the ability to raise prices or exclude competitors. In economics, a monopoly is a single seller. In law, a monopoly is a business entity that has significant market power, that is, the power to charge high prices without consequences.
When not coerced legally to do otherwise, monopolies typically maximize their profit by producing fewer goods and selling them at higher prices than would be the case for perfect competition. Sometimes governments decide legally that a given company is a monopoly that doesn't serve the best interests of the market and/or consumers.
Governments may force such companies to divide into smaller independent corporations, as was the case of United States versus AT&T, or alter its behavior, as was the case of United States versus Microsoft, to protect consumers. A government may also decide that it is in the best interest of the country and its citizens to nationalize a company, especially one that has had a history of abuse. Political will is somewhat lacking here on Grand Bahama, as the population continues to suffer and the business community stagnates unnecessarily.
Historically, we here on Grand Bahama have relied on government to do the right thing by the people and protect us from predators. Both parties seem either unable or unwilling to address the situation with the GBPA. Unfortunately, with the death of Edward St. George, and the subsequent demise of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, we, the people, are left to our own devices.
The real question that faces us here on Grand Bahama is: "what is the solution?"
The first step is in leadership. While there are several qualified to seek a solution, few will commit to the cause. Politicians are elected by personality not by their qualifications to "get the job done". Once again, we are left to our own accord. While public opinion runs rampant throughout our island, I have yet to see a large percentage of the public actually rally behind a cause. Even if that cause (like a ridiculous power bill) detrimentally affects each and every one of us and our future. This issue's effect is felt both personally and commercially here on Grand Bahama.
Lawyers won't help without large financial compensation; politicians won't or can't help because they don't want to rock the boat. Business leaders are busy trying to make ends meet and keep Grand Bahamians employed, so that only leaves you and me to fight the fight.
As anyone on Grand Bahama that reads this will know, there is an ongoing fight between Butlers Food World (BFW) and Grand Bahama Power. So to summarize, GBPC has been billing BFW over $40,000 per month for services predetermined to cost less than $15,000 per month. Like many companies here in Freeport, we choose to operate by using our diesel generator for several reasons - namely, to stop the billing abuses of GBPC and to use more reliable and constant power. Just last night, when the power was off for several hours, BFW's power supply was uninterrupted. When the power came back on and spiked, thousands of compressors and appliances all over Grand Bahama were safe. We have lost several compressors at a cost of $6,000 each due to GBPC's inconsistent power. Altogether here on Grand Bahama, businesses have lost millions of dollars due to spikes and dips causing inconsistent electricity from GBPC without any compensation.
Just yesterday Tony Lopez, an executive at GBPC, emailed me to say that unless BFW paid up the bill in full, (the bill which we are challenging in the Supreme Court), he would shut off the power to Butlers Specialty Foods (BSF) on Yellow Pine Road. Not only is BSF currently on the over-priced bill, they operate under a separate license of the GBPA.
Question? Is Emera really the type of company we need here in the Bahamas? Most of us here on Grand Bahama think not.
We need to let our government and Prime Minister Perry Christie know that we have had enough of the lies and rhetoric of Emera. It is time to control our own destiny.
I will continue to fight for each and every individual and business here on Grand Bahama.
While blessed with high per capita income, Bahamians continue to be plagued by the high cost of basic utilities with none more daunting than the astounding .38kwh charged by the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC). And even more so, BEC continues to prolong maintenance leading to operation failures that require further borrowing to rent additional generators for peak load demands this summer.
This is a dismal state of affairs.
The resignation of Michael Moss as chairman of BEC and with the change in government, we are presented with the opportunity for a review and overhaul of the entire government-owned entity. With high costs and low reliability, the government needs to take control of costs and perform scheduled maintenance to keep our existing turbines and generators running. We need to invite and pursue innovative power generating technologies such as OTEC.
Blaming high costs and the inconsistent price of oil is merely a scapegoat tactic since oil has fluctuated consistently over the last decade with an apparent upward trend, and has generally been high in price for many years. The oil embargo of 1973 should have proved a warning to countries reliant on foreign oil, but largely stable prices from the late 1980s to late 1990s masked the volatility of the crude oil market.
Even with the prospectus of oil drilling in The Bahamas, the actual extraction of oil, if economically viable, is years away and does nothing to resolve the need to pay $6 million for rented generators this summer. There is no investment in renting generators; it is merely a stop-gap to keep our lights on and refrigerators humming.
Without a doubt The Bahamas incurs significant infrastructure costs to provide basic utilities to residents scattered throughout our 700 islands. But we have yet to grasp and fully realize the potential contribution of innovative and renewable power generating technologies. One certainly hopes that BEC will maintain the MoU signed with OTEC and that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) will encourage investor contributions, if not allow OTEC to break ground.
BEC is a monopoly energy provider expected at least by the people to provide reliable cost-efficient electricity and if not break-even, accrue a small debt simply by the enormity of the task to provide electricity to our island nation.
But it cannot, and yet, legislation continues to discourage individual investments in renewable technologies that may even provide power back to the grid. Solar water heaters made a brief appearance in the press after the government received an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) grant and invited eligible homeowners to apply.
Some say the government relies too heavily on taxes levied from petroleum, which discourages it from renewable energy investment; but how can a government corporation with escalating liabilities really be a positive contributor to the economy?
That's not even to mention the burden of high operating costs to local businesses and households.
Yet, business continues as usual with a $105 million 48 MW power plant in Wilson City, and a new $23.7 million 24 MW turbine for Nassau in summer 2013, and $80 million 52 MW power plant in Grand Bahama by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, all of which run on heavy fuel oil otherwise known as Bunker C. We continue to invest in antiquated technology that is bad for our health and our economy.
Abaco continues to experience major power outages even with the new Wilson City plant online. There are serious doubts in BEC's ability to maintain the new generators. Performing scheduled maintenance is crucial for any facility or piece of machinery. Anyone who has failed to change his or her motor oil over the years of owning a car is more than knowledgeable about the perils of skipped or delayed servicing.
Let's hope that the national budget released at the end of this month will provide additional concessions to promote high efficiency products and the PLP will continue to work OTEC and encourage additional alternative energy investment to secure reliable, safe, and cost-effective sources of energy.
Nassau, Bahamas - The
Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) takes this opportunity to
formally respond to the media with respect to allegations levied against
the Corporation by the Bahamas Electrical Utility Workers Managerial
Firstly, the Corporation wishes to advise the
media and the public at large that it does not comment on human resource
matters in the public. As with any employee related matter, BEC
encourages the BEUMU to employ all legitimate and legal recourse
afforded to them through the industrial agreement and the laws of the
Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
BAHAMAS Electrical Workers Union President Stephano Green said yesterday the union was not taking any industrial action against the Bahamas Electricity Corporation until after they hear from Prime Minister Perry Christie.
Former Education Minister Alfred Sears has been appointed to serve as chairman of the Council of The College of The Bahamas, the Cabinet Office revealed over the weekend.
According to a Cabinet statement, Dr. Earl Cash, a veteran attorney, has been appointed the deputy chairman.
In addition to Sears and Cash, other members of the council include: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Urban Development Collin Higgs; realtor David Morley; Vice President of Building and Development at the Grand Bahama Port Authority Arthur Jones; attorney Lowell Mortimer and Manager of the Inspection Department of The Central Bank of The Bahamas Anita Bain.
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said "the new council comprises a group of dynamic Bahamians who have achieved tremendous success in their professional lives."
"The new council members will play a significant part in the college's transition to the University of The Bahamas and their expertise will greatly advance this process," he added.
The announcement of the COB council members is the first in several similar announcements that are expected to made regarding board appointments.
Prime Minister Perry Christie told The Nassau Guardian last week that the remainder of the boards will be revealed sometime this week.
"We've been accepting the resignations of board members," he said. "We are now focusing on boards. We have completed The College of The Bahamas for example. We are looking at other members now and so as I accept the resignations from members appointed by the FNM (Free National Movement) who all agree that they would hold on until such time as we have their replacements appointed, well we know that we have to do that in the month of June and so that's the process that is going on now.
He continued, "Appointments will be made to the boards of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) and the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (BCB).
Christie said the chairpersons of those boards have already been identified, except in the case of BOB. The government had initially chosen former BOB and BEC chairman Al Jarrett to head both firms. Jarrett, 69, died on May 22 after suffering a heart attack.
Nassau, Bahamas -
(May 30, 2012) The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) advises their
customer in New Providence that is has restored supply to all areas
following an island-wide outage on early Wednesday morning on May 30th,
By 1pm on Wednesday, supply was restored to all areas of New Providence.
BEC further advises that late Wednesday afternoon (after 3pm) it
experienced a partial outage impacting some customers in the western
area of the island.
Already, the majority of customers affected by this late afternoon
outage have had their supply restored. BEC expects those few remaining
There has been much complaining of late about the new administration's decision to not renew the contracts of urban renewal workers. The Free National Movement (FNM) says the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is victimizing Bahamians and the PLP says the contracts came to an end and it is moving in another direction.
Truth is that both parties use the scheme to employ supporters. The PLP did in 2002 and the FNM did it in 2007. When a new party comes in it clears out a certain number in urban renewal in order to make way for its own.
Such a system could work if the parties would be honest and define the political appointments in the scheme and those that are permanent. The individuals who are political appointees would receive five-year contracts with the explicit understanding that they work to carry out the policies of their administration while in office. When another wins, the honorable thing to do would be to resign.
There is nothing wrong with having political appointees serve in the government system. Ambassadors are similar creatures who serve at the pleasure of the administration of the day. When the administration changes, the leadership at foreign missions changes too.
Those who seek political jobs must understand that those positions are not like regular public service positions. When a political organization gives you a job just because you are a party supporter or just to look out for its interests, you are a political appointee. If Bahamians understand this, we will have fewer people crying to the media when change occurs and they are unemployed.
The DPM and the BEC chairman
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis told The Nassau Guardian in a recent interview that Tall Pines Member of Parliament Leslie Miller failed to follow the proper process of the governing party's parliamentary caucus when he announced on a talk show on Thursday he would not support any additional borrowing to complete the controversial New Providence Road Improvement Project.
"I don't expect those of us who have firm and strong views about anything to be sharing it in public without first sharing it with his colleagues. It's the first time I'm hearing about it," said Davis.
The government has said it plans to borrow an additional $65 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to finish the road work. This was revealed in the final months of the Ingraham administration.
In the Westminster political system, it is a serious offense for a member of Parliament to vote against his party when the whip is on. If this is done, the MP can be thrown out of caucus.
Miller has always been a maverick. It was inevitable that he and the party hierarchy would clash. Prime Minister Perry Christie has announced Miller as the chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation. We wonder if Christie, Miller and the PLP will make it the full five years based on Miller's free spirit and the inability of the party's hierarchy to control him.
If Miller does vote against his party in Parliament Christie may be faced with his first political test this term. Can you leave a man in your caucus who dares to defy the party openly?
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation underwent another spate of power outages this past weekend due to underground lines being severed, BEC Chairman Michael Moss told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.
Moss said BEC had several issues in both eastern and western New Providence with high voltage cables being cut by construction workers.
"There were at least three or four in the vicinity of Baha Mar and a couple in the west and any number involving the New Providence road works," Moss said.
He said the power outage involved construction workers cutting in to 33,000 volt cables buried in the ground.
"I'm surprised there have been no serious injuries," Moss said.
The corporation's press officer Arnette Ingraham added that two generators tripped and were out for a period of less than 30 minutes. "It lasted less than half an hour," she said.
According to Ingraham, mother nature also played a role in some power outages over the weekend as well, with lightning strikes causing several outages.
She explained, however, that BEC typically shuts its systems down during a lightening storm in order to prevent any irreparable damage to equipment or damage not easy to be quickly fixed.
Ingraham said in all of the cases, repair crews were sent out right away to correct any issues.
BEC has been criticized this summer for not being able to keep the power on.
Its executives have continuously cited generator failure for the inordinate amount of power outages in the past several months. And those frequent outages have been blamed on the years of maintenance the corporation's large generators at Clifton Pier have missed because of financial issues.
BEC spent $3 million recently to rent additional generators that were to produce 20 megawatts of supplementary power.
Moss said the generators were brought online two weeks ago and have allowed BEC to take generators offline at the Clifton Pier power plant for service.
"It is helping because we had to put overhauls on hold because of the tight generation demand," he said. "Now we have been able to resume taking units out of service for maintenance."
Moss said BEC will have the supplementary generators for 13 weeks.
He added that BEC will begin taking generators at the Blue Hills power plant out of service for overhauls this week.
Moss explained that the extra 20 megawatts coupled with a temperature reduction as the season changes in the next few weeks, will allow BEC to complete generator overhauls.
"The weather should soon be cooling off and demand will be reducing," he said.
NASSAU, The Bahamas
--- Officials of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, working in conjunction
with personnel from the Bain and Grant's Town Urban Renewal Project and
the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, demolished two abandoned buildings
located just off Baillou Hill Road Tuesday, putting an end to what were
once two "stash houses" for drug peddlers in the area.
destruction of the buildings came less than 24hours after police found
and confiscated a little over four pounds of marijuana in one of the two
The vice president of the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) says cutting expenses on affordable housing projects by 40 percent is not realistic due to the high cost of materials.
Leonard Sands, who is also head of public relations at BCA, said the focus on boosting affordable housing, tabled by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) during Wednesday's Speech from the Throne, is indeed an admirable initiative. But the BCA, along with the government, needs to figure out how this goal can be achieved.
"We have the cost of labor, which is pretty much fixed and then there is the cost of materials that the government dictates should be used. We know that you are not going to tell persons who are constructing the homes to build it at a loss to themselves," Sands explained. "You then have to look at different types of materials. From our perspective, we would advise officials from the Ministry of Housing to do a comprehensive review of new and available construction materials. We have been using concrete blocks and plaster for many years, while the rest of the world has revolutionized and brought costs lower by looking at different materials."
After the Speech from the Throne, Dr. Duane Sands, the former chairman of the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC), floated the idea of finding a way to reduce expenses in affordable housing by 40 percent.
The BCA executive pointed out that low-cost homes are still too expensive, and the government needs to come up with more cost-effective methods when constructing these homes like the installation of solar-powered heater and lighting to improve on its efficiency.
"Since it is a government-funded/subsidized home, why doesn't the government put them in the system where they must have a solar-powered water heater and lighter, which could cut your electricity bill by 40 percent," he said.
"If you're really talking about providing a low cost home to low budget and economic-based consumer, let's really make it the case. For example, if a person only makes $20,000 a year and you give them a $85,000 home, which is the home's typical cost, and then they have to landscape it and try to maintain it. They are already living above their means even with a low cost house."
Dr. Sands said there needs to be a new approach, which involves consultation between industry stakeholders and the government.
"We need to come up with a new design, technology and merge those components together to achieve a real, new low-cost home," he added.
In the meantime, Sands is calling on the government to put the necessary legislation in place for these homes to be constructed.
"Mandate persons to use higher efficiency systems in their homes. Yes, five years is a short window but you really don't need five years to attack policies that can result in immediate savings. We would like the government to partner with us to lead the home owner down the path where they benefit," he said.
Members of the Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU) threatened yesterday to take industrial action if the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) did not reinstate Ervin Dean, the union's recently suspended president, by 4:30 p.m yesterday.
The union held a meeting at 4:30 p.m., but it was unclear up to press time what action the union would take.
"This is crisis moment we're in," said BEUMU Vice President Clinton Minnis.
"We want to say to the public, our president has been under attack from this organization for five years and we've been very patient and kind trying to promote industrial good will."
The corporation said in a statement yesterday that it does not comment on human resource matters in the public.
"As with any employee related matter, BEC encourages the BEUMU to employ all legitimate and legal recourse afforded to it through the industrial agreement and the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas," said the statement.
"Although there are instances when the corporation and the union may disagree on certain matters, at all times BEC encourages the union to ensure that any action it may be considering is not to the detriment of BEC's customers and by extension the entire country."
However, Minnis said the union believes that Dean was wrongly suspended.
"The president of our union was not suspended because of his presidential duties, which he was carrying out legally under the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas," said Minnis.
"He was suspended as manager of credit and collection. So in other words the management of this corporation has misprocessed or they don't understand process."
He continued: "We want Mr. Dean's letter to be rescinded, the letter that was sent to him. We want Mr. Dean returned to work before 4:30 p.m. and further we have already put the membership of the managerial union on alert, and we have gotten overwhelming support from the junior union, that if we don't get action immediately it's going to be hot up in here, and we aren't playing and we are never scared."
Despite assurances by Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) officials earlier this year, that frequent island-wide black outs would not occur this summer due to improved system capabilities, many areas in New Providence were once again left without power for several hours yesterday.
The blackout, which affected almost every community in New Providence, began shortly after 8 a.m., and was the result of a surge on BEC's system, according to Arnette Ingraham, the corporation's public relations officer.
"Crews were immediately dispatched to restore supplies and to investigate the cause of the surge," said Ingraham."BEC began restoring supplies to its customers less than half-an-hour after the initial fault."
Ingraham said supply was restored to all affected areas around noon.
She said BEC isolated the cause of the fault to a problem on its transmission network but the exact problem had not been identified up to press time.
This is the latest in a string of island-wide outages since May, although BEC has distanced itself from fault in at least one of those incidents.
On May 6, a tractor working on the Airport Gateway Project triggered a blackout after it hit an overhead transmission line on John F. Kennedy Drive, according to the corporation.
On May 30, almost the entire island was again plunged into darkness for hours when two men, employed with a private company, caused damage to major overhead power lines and themselves in the Prince Charles Drive area, BEC said.
During their work, an aluminium ladder reportedly came into contact with one of BEC's 33kV overhead lines, causing the entire system, including generator units to trip offline.
However, BEC admitted that a protective relay that should have activated to isolate the fault malfunctioned.
In March, the corporation announced a $6 million investment in additional generator capacity.
At the time, then BEC Executive Chairman Michael Moss insisted the nation was "not going to have blackouts this summer", with twice as much capacity stocked.
Last year, the capital experienced frequent power outages as the system struggled to handle summer demand, leaving thousands frustrated.
BEC said yesterday it was taking the necessary steps to ensure that these occurrences were, if not eradicated, minimized with little inconvenience to consumers.
The corporation also apologized for the inconvenience caused by yesterday's blackout.
THE ABACO Business Outlook 2010 is expected to focus on strengthening the island's economy through Entrepreneurship, Technology and Tradition
The forum, which is scheduled to take place on September 22 at New Vision Ministries in Marsh Harbour, will focus on social, government and tourism issues facing the island.
Already confirmed for the event are minister of tourism, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, Michael Moss, and director of the National Insurance Board, Algernon Cargill.
"Central to TCL's (The Counsellors Limited) philosophy and practice in organising the Outlook is to respect and examine the whole picture of a community - interna ...
For several hours last Monday, we were forcefully reminded exactly what is meant by an essential service and what it feels like to go about our daily lives without not just one essential service, but minus a pair of them. Today, we would like to Consider This ... what do we have a right to demand from those who provide us with these important services and what should we do if those providers don't live up to their end of the bargain?
Each of us enters into contracts during our lives - contracts with our bank, our employer, even our spouse. Those contracts have very definite parameters, giving us things in exchange for our promise to give something in return. After receiving what we have contracted for, whether it is money, employment or a faithful, loving spouse, if we fail to live up to our end of the bargain, loans get called, jobs are lost and sometimes, marriages wind up on the rocks.
Then, there are the other kinds of contracts where those with whom you have the contract must continue to provide that for which you have contracted as you agree to fulfill your part of the agreement, also on an ongoing basis. These contracts are the kind we have with our essential service providers: The companies from whom we get electricity, water and telephone and, to some degree, cable television and Internet providers, although some would argue the latter are not essential services. However, after being prevented from using ATMs all over the island last Monday because of Internet related problems, many would unquestionably classify them as essential services.
So we innocently sign up for these services, being duly informed about what will happen to us as customers should we breach our part of the agreement but never asking what compensation we could expect should the service provider fail to deliver the contracted services. It rarely occurs to many of us to ask "what happens if the lights go off?" or "what do we get back if the phones fail to work?" or "what can we expect if we have to do without water?" It is almost unthinkable that things like that would happen on a protracted basis. At least it used to be.
We are now a different kind of people. We have shown that we have little patience for politicians who do not live up to their promises. We are becoming a people whose patience is wearing very thin.
We are beginning to awaken to the fact that we do have rights and that an agreement should be taken seriously - by both parties. We are embracing the idea that we do not have to settle for whatever service we happen to get, whether it is good, mediocre or downright absent, as it was on Monday past. We are starting to ask about the fairness of having to pay the same charges whether we get what we pay for or merely a pale shadow of the promised service.
Why, for example, do we have to pay the same price for rusty water coming through the taps into our sinks and washing machines that we agreed to pay for what we were assured was a clear, clean, potable product that would not ruin our clothes and force us to buy bottled water to use for what tap water is supposed to provide? Moreover, when we signed up for water, we did not expect to have good pressure sometimes and dribbles or nothing at other times.
Yes, things happen. Emergencies occur. But emergencies are becoming so commonplace that having a good steady stream of water from your tap for some areas of the nation is now the exception, not the rule. Most just suck it up, so to speak, and pay the full water bill for the less than full service they have received.
And then we have the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC). While we are growing, we were used to power failures because of "generation problems", this past week's massive outage was caused by a "surge on its system", as BEC said in its press release on the event that crippled the capital for hours on Monday past.
But, month after month, consumers who are being asked to pay astronomical bills in return for what is anticipated to be a steady supply of current are being shut off because of non-payment. Business growth is severely handicapped by the cost of electricity as well as its unreliability, caught between going broke paying for it and going broke because you can't open your business because of a power failure - a real example of being damned if you do and damned if you don't.
And what are you offered when their part of the bargain is not fulfilled and the lights kept on? True, we only pay for the power we use, but the problem is much more complex than that. We have contracted for a 24/7 supply. We construct our lives around that understanding. Our business hours rely on that. We buy our food and plan our day around the belief that we will have power. If the contract told us we would have 12 hours of electricity every day, we would plan differently. But it doesn't. And we should have a reasonable expectation when entering into a contract that it will be carried out, just as the other party expects payment. Fair is fair and it's time for BEC to level with its customers, tell us what that contract really means in terms of supply and, instead of charging us for a reliable supply of electricity, bring down the rate for the UN-reliable supply of electricity accordingly.
And then there is BTC. Today it seems as though we are held together and linked to the world beyond with our landlines, cell phones and smart phones. We conduct business, parent our children, sustain our relationships and expand our social life within and outside our communities, all via the miracle of telephony. Without it, the nurtured networks of our lives crumble. We experienced that on Monday as everything ground to a halt when, for reasons that have yet to be discovered, our telephone system failed.
Before Monday, we have been experiencing less than stellar service with our phones. Cell phone systems are being upgraded, we are told, so we are becoming used to large gaps in our connectivity. Our landline system, when it has problems, is now subjected to a new and much more rigid repair protocol that results in a longer wait-time to be resolved. Once again, we did not sign up for this when we entered into an agreement for telephone service. And we certainly did not agree to pay for mediocrity and a constantly evolving system, subject as it seems to be to a trial-and-error kind of level of service.
BTC has provided financial consideration for those who suffered through Monday's debacle but very little reassurance that things will get better as they continue to charge for connections that often do not connect. Fair is fair. As long as BTC is in the upgrade mode, tinkering with systems and fixing platforms, the rate charged the consumer - who really is becoming more of a BETA testing participant - should be adjusted accordingly - and not just for 24 or 48 hours. As with Water and Sewerage and BEC, we are paying BTC for something we are not getting, so that payment structure needs to be addressed in the name of fairness.
Until we can get what we are paying for where our utilities are concerned, being a First World nation will continue to be an elusive dream. But once we are treated fairly by those we contract to provide these services, the sky is the limit and our admission to the First World and the 21st century will be assured.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
When 2012 rolled in, the excitement of being in media was at an all-time high as the country prepared for a final showdown between Perry Gladstone Christie and Hubert Alexander Ingraham.
In the weeks and months that followed, there was not a dull day in the world of news and no shortage of headlines produced from the treacherous campaign.
In the lead up to the May 7 election, the Progressive Liberal Party released its highly-anticipated Charter for Governance with specific 100-day promises included.
Prime Minister Perry Christie has said repeatedly that he is focused on fulfilling those pledges, although the timing of their implementation, in some respects, may need to be adjusted due to the poor state of public finances.
He and the PLP have been given a clear mandate and the prime minister expects to be held accountable as he goes about seeking to fulfill those promises in the face of still difficult economic circumstances.
It is too soon to realistically expect much of what has been promised to have materialized, especially since we are a good ways off from that much-talked about 100-day mark.
In any event, any reasonable minded person would expect the substantive accomplishments of the Christie team to take much longer than 100 days to be achieved.
But it is not too soon to examine those "promises" that appear to be dead on arrival.
These are just some:
1. Leslie Miller's promise that one of the first actions of the Christie administration will be to rid the country of Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles (JCCC).
At a rally days before the election, Miller, now the MP for Tall Pines, declared that one of the first actions of the new Christie administration would be to rid the country of Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles, the Argentinian company spearheading the controversial project.
That declaration drew loud cheers from the Gold Rush crowd and raised even more questions about the wildly over-budgeted project.
But it appears that Miller's declaration was his own.
The new government did not rid the country of Jose Cartellone in the initial days or weeks of its administration and has not announced any plans to do so.
Minister of Works Philip Brave Davis has stated the government's position that it will carry on with Jose Cartellone and complete the project as soon as is reasonable to do so.
The new administration inherited the project and all the frustrations and challenges associated with it.
It is now left to borrow to pay for cost overruns that at last reports had exceeded $90 million.
Miller, who is now chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, remains highly critical of the road project.
He said BEC would have to dig up the medians along these new roads if it needs to get to its underground cables.
Miller has also said he would not support any additional borrowing to complete the road work.
One Facebook commenter claimed -- incorrectly so -- last week that the PLP campaigned to kick Jose Cartellone out of the country.
Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts had this response: "The PLP did not campaign to kick out JCCC, the campaign in part was to kick out the FNM who gave the contract to JCCC. The government is working to bring this contract to conclusion ASAP without incurring additional cost for the taxpayers. Please let's speak the truth and shame the devil."
2. Philip Brave Davis' promise to move for a commission of inquiry within the first 100 days to investigate the road work project, BTC sale, Arawak Cay port deal etc.
Another example of a promise from an individual candidate that is not a commitment of the new administration was the one made by Davis, who is now our deputy prime minister.
This was indeed a noteworthy declaration from Davis at a PLP mass rally at Clifford Park in April. So much so that it grabbed headlines and made our front page.
"I shall agitate for the commission to be appointed so it can call for people and papers to examine and explore the facts surrounding specific matters of great national importance," Davis said.
"With this fact-finding body, we shall seek to examine and reveal the role of special interests involved in the grant of a 40-year monopoly at the Arawak Cay Port."
Davis said at the time that Bahamians still don't know the names of the people "hiding behind the corporate veils". He questioned where the "people's money" went. "Inquiring minds want to know," Davis said. "Let the chips fall where they may."
The PLP deputy said the commission would also be mandated to examine matters pertaining to the sale of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).
The government sold 51 percent of the shares in BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) last year.
Davis said, "Investigations into that sale should include matters related to the selection of the Cable and Wireless company as the preferred purchaser of the Bahamian peoples' value and profitable asset."
Davis said he would also support the commission's examination of the New Providence Road Improvement Project, in particular the "massive levels" of the cost overruns.
Then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham reported to Parliament earlier this year that the project was $77 million over budget.
The PLP has called the project "poorly managed".
But there has been no talk of a commission of inquiry within the first 100 days -- not from Davis or anyone within the administration, at least not publicly.
The new government's focus is elsewhere.
When asked about the commission of inquiry promise last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie was noncommittal.
Christie indicated that the government would have to look carefully at the matter before making any determinations in this regard.
"With respect to a commission of inquiry, the government has to determine whether that goes forward," he said.
"We have to determine whether it is in the best interest of our country to hold a judicial inquiry into the port, into any matter that we might consider necessary."
Davis said not long after coming to office he still supports the appointment of a commission of inquiry, but for now the government must deal with "more pressing issues".
"I said I would support such an inquiry and that would be a matter that Cabinet would have to discuss and deal with," he told The Guardian.
He explained that the government had not yet reached the stage to appoint a commission as yet.
"We will deal with the more pressing issues that are facing us now, which are crime and the economy," he said.
"Those are things that we are interested in now."
He continued, "We have not forgotten BTC but at the moment we are trying to get our streets safe again."
3. Philip Brave Davis' promise to create 10,000 "immediate" new jobs for young Bahamians.
A key issue on the campaign trail was the high level of unemployment in the country.
The most recent Labour Force Survey, which was released by the Department of Statistics in February, contained some insightful but at the same time alarming information on the current state of unemployment in The Bahamas.
Apart from the distressingly high unemployment rate of nearly 16 percent overall and the continuing challenges to the Grand Bahamian economy, with an unemployment rate of 21.2 percent, the data on youth unemployment was perhaps the most disturbing.
Youth unemployment was pegged at 34 percent.
So any promise relating to job creation, particularly for the youth, stood out in the lead up to the election.
Two months in, there has been no indication from the new administration of these 10,000 "immediate" new jobs for young Bahamians.
But as the term "immediate" is subjective, some may argue that the government has several months left to fulfill this pledge.
Several days ago, Prime Minister Christie said his administration was feeling the pressure to deliver on its campaign promise to create jobs.
"It takes time to bring about the jobs that are necessary for people and we can hear the clamor already of people who elected us that they are impatient and they want progress," he said.
"It's pressing me very hard, I'm at it for many hours in the day working at this."
Just over a week ago, Prime Minister Christie announced that 300 new jobs will be created on Bimini when a new casino opens in December.
4. Dr. Perry Gomez' promise at an Andros rally that National Health Insurance will be made reality WITHIN THE FIRST YEAR.
I considered carefully whether to include this as an example of dead-on-arrival promises.
It is, but only in the sense of Gomez's recent backtracking on the timeframe for implementing NHI.
Dr. Gomez -- the now minister of health and former director of the National AIDS Programme -- chaired the Blue Ribbon Commission on NHI under the first Christie administration.
Several months before the 2007 general election, the then government brought an NHI Bill to Parliament.
Although the bill was passed, the election took place before the promised regulations to flesh out the details of NHI were drafted.
"If the term of government was not interrupted in 2007, The Bahamas would be well on the way to achieving many of the goals that we had set for it, including National Health Insurance," he said at the rally.
"I can assure you that if that were not the case that National Health Insurance would have been implemented by the next Christie term; that didn't happen. And I assure you tonight that when the bell is rung and the votes are tallied and the PLP is announced the winner, National Health Insurance will be on the front burner of the PLP government and will be implemented within a year."
After coming to office, Dr. Gomez quickly conceded that implementing NHI within the first year of the new Christie administration is not realistic.
He explained that the rate of unemployment is too high, and since NHI is a contributory scheme it would be difficult to bring on the program before more Bahamians are employed in significant numbers.
While campaigning, he had told The Nassau Guardian that most of the work for NHI was already done between 2002-2007 and implementing it within the first year of the new government was realistic.
It is unclear what new information the now minister accessed that made him have a change of heart on the timeframe.
No new unemployment numbers were released between the time he made his campaign declaration and the time he admitted that the scheme is not doable in year one.
A new timeframe for NHI is unclear, but Prime Minister Christie has reiterated that it remains a priority of his government.
5. Michael Darville's and Greg Moss' promise that a Ministry of Energy and Industry will be located on Grand Bahama.
At the launch of the PLP's Grand Bahama team of candidates early this year, Michael Darville, now Senator and Minister of Grand Bahama, made this announcement.
"Understanding that the expansion of the economy requires reduced energy costs, the Progressive Liberal Party will embark from the first day in office to establish a new Ministry of Energy and Industry to be located on Grand Bahama," Darville declared.
"The primary mandate will be to reduce the overall cost of electricity per kilowatt hour throughout The Bahamas, and to improve the inefficient failing electrical infrastructure of BEC, while working with the owners of the Grand Bahama Power Company to reduce the fuel surcharge by expanding alternative energy sources."
At that same event, Greg Moss, now MP for Marco City, made the same promise.
He said, "A new Ministry of Energy and Industry will be the nation's first ministry to be situated outside the capital. We will also name a Minister for Grand Bahama with direct responsibility, in consultation with other relevant government ministries, for the oversight of the various government agencies and departments in Grand Bahama.
"We will conduct an extensive review of the cost of electrical power in Grand Bahama to ensure that customers are not being overbilled.
"The present cost of electricity in Grand Bahama is alarming in light of the fact that the Grand Bahama Power Company is not paying any customs duties on the import of fuel."
In the end, the prime minister decided against this Ministry of Energy and Industry.
He however immediately kept his promise to establish a Ministry for Grand Bahama.
The ministry was previously promised by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, but was never established under the former government.
It's not clear why Prime Minister Christie decided against a Ministry of Energy and Industry on Grand Bahama, which according to Darville would have been mandated to look at reducing energy costs throughout the entire country.
These are but a few of the promises made during the campaign on which there has been some backtracking.
They might be a good lesson to voters that promises of national significance that are made by individual candidates ought not be taken seriously as they may not be the position of the party, and the new administration when it takes office.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) cannot keep the lights on in the capital island of our country. Residents of New Providence have become accustomed to annual summer load shedding because BEC cannot meet peak demand caused by the increased use of air-conditioners by residential and commercial customers.
Every summer it gets hot and every summer BEC fails to meet demand. And, by the way, BEC's failure occurs under Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM) administrations.
Before private management was hired at the airport, the government poorly maintained our gateway. Smelly restrooms and broken down luggage retrieval sections were just a few of the disorderly functions of that structure.
After private management was hired and a stable revenue stream established to fund needed expansion, the airport became a thing of pride for Bahamians.
The problem is that the main interests of most politicians are staying in power and getting reelected. They do not want to fire anyone (potential voters) and they do not want to anger anyone (potential voters).
It is now time to make a move with BEC. Our politicians cannot run it properly. That has been proven over the decades.
Commercial and residential consumers have suffered as a result of the government running the power supplier. Constant power outages damage equipment and cause some businesses that do not have generators to close until the power supply is restored. Revenue is lost as a result.
And if equipment is damaged, businesses have to go through a long entanglement with BEC in order to receive compensation.
Residential consumers have their appliances and electronics damaged by the on and off cycle of power cuts and restoration. For those who do not have generators, power outages make difficult carrying out the simplest things.
The government must relinquish full control of BEC. It could be fully privatized with the government assuming all or most of its debt in order to make the corporation attractive; or it could be partially privatized with the partner assuming managerial control of the supplier with the government being a minority partner.
If BEC is sold to a group with experience running a successful power company, there could be a similar result as witnessed at the airport.
Another option would be to allow private companies to open up and also supply power in New Providence. If the government thinks it must own BEC forever, then this model would allow those companies to produce the supply needed to keep the lights on all the time.
The idea has been floated of a BEC partnership. What is needed is a formal national consultation on BEC, followed by a position paper, followed by revisions, then a decision on a new model and the executed change.
What our politicians do not seem to understand is that Bahamians are fed up with their incompetence. After 38 years of independence we are still struggling to do simple things such as keeping traffic lights on, fixing roads and maintaining adequate power supply and water pressure. Since the government cannot do these things, then we must find new models to ensure that they are done efficiently.
Our suggestions are in no way exhaustive. There are many creative ways to ensure that services are provided. The one model we all know has failed is full state ownership and control.
Peter Nicholson has worked in the investment industry since 1987. Peter has specialized in tax reduction and philanthropic tax planning since 1995. He is the president and founder of WCPD Inc., a Canadian-based financial services company. His public foundation, the WCPD Foundation, has helped him and his clients give over $60 million to charities in the last three years. Peter started investing in Exuma in 2004 and has completed several real estate projects, including the recent purchase of 40 percent of Grand Isle Resort & Spa.
Guardian Business: What is the biggest challenge facing your business or sector? What measures need to be taken in The Bahamas to solve it?
Peter: My biggest challenge is attracting potential villa buyers and rental guests for the first time to Great Exuma and my resort, Grand Isle Villas (GIV). When people come once, they tend to return after discovering the gorgeous turquoise water, talcum powder beaches and the quality workmanship of our well-appointed villas. We are not only marketing to North America, Europe and South America, but also to residents of Nassau and Grand Bahama. As exciting as life is in bustling Nassau and Freeport, an escape to our outer island paradise can be relaxing, rejuvenating, and offers a retreat which is unmatched. I really believe once they visit Grand Isle, many will choose to purchase a villa as a close-by getaway offering an excellent return on their investment.
We need to rejuvenate the economy of Great Exuma, and with increased airlift, the support of The Bahamas Tourism Board and newly-elected Prime Minister Christie -- who is favoring the return of the duty exemption on construction materials bound for Exuma -- we will partner together to make Grand Isle Villas (GIV) an important economic catalyst for this beautiful, yet unknown to many, outer island.
GB: How has your business or sector changed since the financial crisis?
Peter: Everyone's business has suffered from the economic downturn. The important thing is to see the opportunities presented during these times, and take full advantage to prepare for the day when some measure of recovery is evident. Ironically, when the first owner of GIV ran into financial challenges, it gave me an opening to purchase 40 percent of the project and make plans to turn it into a world class destination resort. Our efforts are already paying off when GIV was named eighth best luxury resort in the Caribbean by the readers of the influential survey website, Trip Advisor. Finding success in a still uncertain economy means keeping a sense of optimism and an open mind. Change is inevitable and the economy will always have its highs and lows -- knowing how to turn adversity into success is why I enjoy being a business entrepreneur. In my Canadian business, I counsel my clients not to see the glass as half empty, but view it for the potential to be half full. Once recovery comes, it is often too late to get into the game. The most successful business executives are those who put themselves out there and aggressively pursue what is possible.
GB: Briefly, can you describe a life experience that changed how you approach your work today?
Peter: I really did have a life changing experience which brought me to my current involvement in GIV. My friend and business partner, Tyrone Monroe, was born in 1959 on the tiny settlement of Farmers Cay, Exuma. He left there in his early twenties and traveled to Ottawa, Canada to seek a better life and more opportunities. Twenty years later he returned to his home for a family reunion and was amazed to see his tiny community had modernized in many ways. Tyrone realized a computer chip had allowed his home to enter the 21st century with advancements including electricity, desalinated drinking water, high speed Internet and cable television. With that realization, Tyrone also recognized the potential beauty of his seafront village and the surrounding property as a prime real estate opportunity. While he had a vision for the future, Tyrone lacked capital. This is where I came in, and a friend made an introduction between the two of us. Tyrone's enthusiasm convinced me that Exuma presented a rare investment opportunity. He knew the local real estate and totally understood his native culture. The rest, as they say, is history. Tyrone and I have a close professional and personal relationship over the past eight years. I had the capital, and the ability to raise more, giving us the chance to seize opportunities when they arose.
GB: What are you currently reading?
Peter: I am an avid reader, and my tastes can best be described as eclectic. I tend to read multiple books at the same time, as well as Canadian and Bahamian newspapers, which are critical to keep up with political and economic changes. On my current book list is "Island Fever", an autobiography of Charlie Phleuger. A true pioneer, he was Exuma's Peace and Plenty Hotel general manager for thirty years. At the same time, I am also fascinated with the book "Dead Aid" by African born Dambisa Moyo. This PhD in economics has created controversy in the philanthropic world by making the argument that if wealthy Western countries really want to help Africa, they should cut economic aid and instead replace aid with significant investment. The Chinese are doing this already.
GB: Has the high cost of energy hurt your business? What solutions have you initiated or considered to combat it?
Peter: I am always looking for new and innovative techniques to reduce energy costs, whether in my Canadian business or in Great Exuma. The sunny, frequently windy weather in Exuma, coupled with its small 7,000 population makes it an ideal candidate to be an example to the world to have sustainable ways of producing energy. Exuma has a particular challenge because energy is mainly created by diesel generators run by Bahamas Electricity Corporation. Finding techniques and technology to reduce energy costs and introduce new options is a priority for me. I treasure the eco-friendly atmosphere on Exuma. While reducing energy costs and developing new resources is a lofty goal, I am looking for people who have ideas or projects which can help us meet the need. I invite them to share their thoughts and start a conversation with me by e mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GB: What makes a great boss? What makes a bad boss?
Peter: A great leader is not afraid to listen to their people and encourage their active participation in sharing new ideas. Grand Isle's Board of Directors is a group of inspiring, great bosses. Jon Wright, our board chairman, has a sign in his company which wisely advises, "None of us is as smart as all of us." On the other side of the equation, a bad boss takes all the credit for business success and blames employees for the failure. History shows us that whether a corporate president or a politician, being an inclusive chief executive makes for a good boss.
GB: If you could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas, what would it be?
Peter: I would certainly like to see The Bahamas surpass other destinations, including the United States of America, as the leader in providing award winning service. The most successful hospitality economies are those who invest in training their service sector employees to see the advantages of providing exceptional guest service. This means being polite, attentive, and understanding that providing excellent service attracts affluent tourists who expect nothing less than the best. Excellent performance as a service provider opens the doors to many career opportunities and advancements. People will not return to The Bahamas if their experience is marred by indifferent service and impolite attitudes. The Caribbean is known for warm hospitality; we must continue to improve our dedication to visitors.
GB: What keeps you grounded? Do you have any major interests other than work?
Peter: My family (including my four children), friends and employees keep me grounded. They know my faults, but appreciate my positive traits. No one is perfect, but I continue to aspire to fix the things that need improvement.
GB: What should young businesses keep in mind in this current economic climate to survive?
Peter: We all encounter tough times. It is not always easy to see the glass half full, but research shows optimists survive tough times better than pessimists. You can take tough times as a disaster, or you can vow to work harder, identify the problems and remember the words I have always liked: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Nothing was ever accomplished by wallowing in misery during tough times. It may be very hard, but at the end of the tough times, opportunity awaits for those who have been prepared.
GB: How would you describe or classify the ease of doing business in The Bahamas?
Peter: Doing business in The Bahamas is a learning experience, which I have honed over the past eight years. Personal relationships with the people and influencers is the best form of networking. With more than 800 islands, logistics and communication can be an issue. I would not be here if I did not believe Grand Isle, Great Exuma and The Bahamas provide a world of opportunity. The scenic splendors of the region, the amazing waters and beaches, and the traditions of centuries make it the place where I am confident it truly is "Better in the Bahamas". I am here to stay!
oI invite interested people to contact me personally at email@example.com if they would like more information on all Grand Isle Villas has to offer.
Top business leaders are fed up with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and are renewing a call for privatization.
New Providence fell into an island-wide blackout last night for several hours after a ladder crashed into an overhead line on Prince Charles Drive. Two workers employed by a private company were rushed to hospital, according to BEC. The company said the relay protecting the central grid malfunctioned, causing a systemic failure to the Clifton Pier and Blue Hills power stations.
Dionisio D'Aguilar, a former board member at BEC, said the mishap "is the price of this economic development".
Nevertheless, he said the continued interruption in power is coming at a major cost to local businesses, and for BEC to function properly, privatization is imperative.
"The main reason why is it will stop the politicians from meddling in BEC's business," D'Aguilar said, who is also the chairman of AML Foods and the president of Superwash. "The FNM does it. The PLP does it. You cannot run a company with these people meddling in a company. They make a decision in the best interests of voters, because they need to get reelected. Every time you do that, it will get destroyed. Their decisions make no sense to the business."
Admitting that the concept seems more like a "pie in the sky" than ever, the top executive referred to recent initiatives, such as reconnection campaigns and long-term reprieves from paying bills, as simply a method of piling more debt on Bahamians.
If the service is run responsibility and reliability, the need for sweeping measures would not be necessary.
"If you got the politicians out of it, you would allow the company to operate to world standards. A state-controlled company has a mindset that is not productive and efficient," he told Guardian Business.
D'Aguilar said his businesses lose untold dollars each year from blackouts.
As an example, he said the BEC situation requires him to purchase and maintain nine generators at a cost of $500,000.
"Why do I need nine generators in order to ensure my power is reliable?" he asked. "It's a real cost, but given the current set up, it'll never get better. You have to factor it into your costs."
Aquapure, the largest and oldest water producer in the country, is also well versed with the trials of dealing with unreliable electricity.
Jeffrey Knowles, the operations director, estimates that the company spent "in excess of $30,000" on blown equipment from sudden outages. While BEC occasionally calls the manufacturer to let them know an outage is coming, this level of proactiveness is not the norm.
And as we come into the summer season, when BEC is traditionally challenged to handle the capacity, Aquapure is bracing for the worst.
"Last time it was absolutely crazy. For one period it was out on a daily basis last summer, which really had us in havoc. It takes 30 minutes to go from city power to our own power. Then, to go from our power to city, it takes another 30 minutes. So you see how many man hours we lose," Knowles told Guardian Business.
The manufacturer recently upgraded its generator for the summer season, he said. So while they are hoping for the best, Aquapure is also expecting the status quo.
Smaller manufacturers and businesses, such has Phillips Sailmakers & Awning Manufacturers, insist that warning that blackouts are coming would go an awful long way for businesses. Larry Phillips, the founder and proprietor, said he is tired of being at BEC's "mercy".
"The problem with BEC is that when you are in the dark, you are left in the dark about when the light might come back on and the machinery will come to life," he explained.
The head of a top public relations firm, Diane Phillips, said it's unfortunate that BEC has failed to keep pace with the technological advances we all depend on for business.
"It's like trying to run a Gulfstream jet on spent diesel. That plane can sit there looking pretty as a picture. You can whistle at its lines and boast about its performance," she said. "But while it is sitting there parked with nothing to run it, it might as well be an overused model. It sure can't get you anywhere if it can't spread its wings and fly."
She argued that BEC's handling of this latest mishap simply adds "fuel to the fire" for the privatization of BEC. With privatization, Phillips said, the government would ultimately derive beneficial revenue. But most importantly, the Bahamian public would finally benefit from a more consistent power supply at reasonable cost.
POLICE are investigating an alleged suicide after a man was discovered dead with a necktie around his neck.
Trevor Thompson, 49, was found in his home at Lumumba Lane, off Fox Hill Road, shortly after 4pm on Friday.
It was reported that the man had been an employee at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.
Police arrested a man at the scene on Friday, which led to claims that he was a suspect in the case.
However last night, police spokesman Supt Stephen Dean said the arrested man had been picked up on a pre-existing warrant and was not considered a suspect.
Foul play is not suspected.
Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett yesterday said the oil spill that occurred on Sunday morning in waters off Grand Bahama was caused by an overflow of diesel fuel when a ship was being refueled.
Dorsett said 210 gallons of diesel oil ultimately spilled into the surrounding water.
However, according to Captain Ray Darville of Overseas Marine Group, who helped clean up the spill, thousands of gallons of oil spilled into the surrounding harbor and coast.
It was the second spill on Grand Bahama since last December.
Dorsett, as well as the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, sent out a statement on the spill that occurred off the Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO) site in Freeport Harbour.
"The Ministry of Environment and Housing was informed of an oil spill in Freeport Harbour due to an incident involving an overflow of light diesel from the bunker barge Smit Inesita to the MT Butterfly just before sunrise," Dorsett said.
"The ministry is informed that once the overflow was noticed, the MT Butterfly shut down the operation a half hour into the operation."
He said that BORCO conducted a walkabout of the impacted area with the Port Department adding that an investigation into the cause of the spill is ongoing.
The Ministry of Transport and Aviation's statement said the spill occurred at approximately 5:06 a.m. on Sunday when the Butterfly was moored at BORCO.
"The ship's oil spill plan was activated and the governmental authorities were subsequently notified," the statement read.
"Anti-pollution equipment, materials and kits, such as containment booms, absorbing pads, rolls, sawdust, absorbing mats and wilding pumps were deployed in response to the oil being discharged in the marine environment.
"Assistance was also rendered by BORCO and STATOIL providing additional containment booms and other anti-pollution equipment, and materials, and kits."
An aerial inspection of the area was done by the Port Department and small pockets of diesel were reportedly discovered.
The statement noted that clean up of the area was ongoing.
"The Ministry of Transport and Aviation has launched a complete investigation into this incident to ascertain all the facts," the statement read.
"All ships documentation and procedures will be reviewed to ascertain the volume of oil discharged and to determine the root cause of the incident. If found to be appropriate in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act, sanctions will follow."
The ministry noted that the government remains ready to deal with future oil spills.
"The protection of the marine environment is crucial to the growth and development of The Bahamas," said the statement.
"The Ministry of Transport and Aviation advises all marine operations to ensure that due diligence is being exercised in all facets of their operations and to ensure that safety is never compromised.
"The pollution of the marine environment will absolutely not be tolerated and where violations are found penalties will be imposed."
A tier 1 oil spill occurred off the coast of Grand Bahama last December, after a Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) container vessel reported a "slow leak".
That spill covered about 12 miles off the coast.
Shortly after that spill, an estimated 70,000 gallons of fuel spilled into the ground from a Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) fuel storage facility at Rock Sound, Eleuthera.
BEC Chairman Leslie Miller said officials suspect that an unknown thief had been siphoning thousands of gallons of fuel from the storage facility for some time.
Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Michael Moss suggested yesterday in a press release that the mismanagement of BEC by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) led to the corporation constructing Abaco's Wilson City power plant out of pocket.
But he suggested is has never been over budget as suggested by the PLP.
Moss was responding to claims by the PLP's Chairman Bradley Roberts that the cost to build and complete the Wilson City plant has overrun the government's budget by a least $30 million.
Moss said Roberts should be aware that BEC was forced to build the power plant from available cash flow after the PLP reduced the corporation's tariff, "making it impossible for BEC to continue securing loans on the strength of its balance sheet."
Roberts suggested in the statement he released Sunday that the power plant's budget, originally set at $90 million, increased to $120 million because of overlooked costs associated with peripheral components needed to generate power efficiently from the new plant.
He said those peripherals included power lines, special transformers, a new switching system and a sub-station.
Moss explained that it was because of BEC's dismal financial situation that it was necessary to put these peripherals in place as the funds became available.
"It became necessary to perform certain works as cash became available," he said.
"Construction of the Wilson City to Marsh Harbour transmission line was one such project. Final preparation and paving of the roadway leading to the site was another.
"Perhaps Mr. Roberts will be good enough to disclose details of the contract left in place for construction of such a transmission line from Snake Cay into Marsh Harbour or did he perhaps intend to bottle the electricity and have it distributed by truck?"
Roberts also revealed Sunday that both the old Marsh Harbour power plant and the new Wilson City plant are being utilized at the same time, which he called a "massive waste" of BEC's money.
Moss also explained why both the old and new power plants are being run simultaneously.
"As regards the present parallel-operation of the Marsh Harbour and Wilson City plants, it is to be noted that Abaco's maximum daily demand is presently about 16 MW (Megawatt), too much for each of the Wilson City 12 MW units (on their own)..."
He said one 12 MW unit is being used at the Wilson City power plant while one 4 MW unit is being used at the old Marsh Harbour plant.
"Because of the size of the units ordered during Mr. Roberts' tenure (as minister responsible for BEC), it will be desirable to maintain and operate some quantum of generation at Marsh Harbour until Abaco's load increases to a level to justify operating at least two units at Wilson City at all times," Moss said.
Roberts claimed that the Free National Movement (FNM) mismanaged the overall development of the Wilson City power plant.
Moss explained that the PLP government failed to make financial provisions to decommission the Marsh Harbour plant, which he said will require the construction of the sub-station and switching system Roberts contended was one of the oversights on the part of the FNM.
"These tip of the iceberg activities referred to by Mr. Roberts are in no way a part of the Wilson City power plant project and Mr. Roberts' attempt to characterize them as such is regrettable," Moss said.
"The planned works are firstly highly desirable so as to decommission the antiquated, hodge-podge of switchboards within the Marsh Harbour Power Station and thus improve the Abaco electricity distribution network. They are, moreover, essential in order to decommission the power plant."
By KRYSTEL ROLLE
Guardian Staff Reporter
Two employees of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation(BEC)were in police custody yesterday in connection with the daring daytime robbery of copperwire from the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas'(BCB)South Beach site last week.
Superintendent Leon Bethell, who heads the Central Detective Unit, toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday that the employees were being detained for questioning. The copper was stolen from the broadcasting corporation's property on Blue Hill Road south on Thursday morning, knocking out the transmission signal to the 1540 AM radio station, which it operates.
Bethell said police were still trying to dete ...
Abaco, Bahamas - A PLP team
headed by the Leader, Deputy Leader and National Chairman visited Abaco
recently where various concerns were expressed by the residences of the
The people of Abaco are extremely unhappy with BEC and the Government
over its failure to provide uninterrupted electricity after some many
promises was made by Jr Minister Phenton Neymour and the Corporation...
On the July 20 edition of his radio talk show Issues of the Day, Jones Communication Network (JCN) CEO Wendall Jones took grave exception to former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham endorsing Cable News 12.
Ingraham told reporters at a press conference in the House of Assembly that he now watches channel 12 news. He also advised the Bahamian public to do the same. The former prime minister accused the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration of abusing the state-run media (the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, or BCB).
This was the complaint that was levelled against the Pindling administration during its 25-year tenure in high office. Few can look at you with a straight face and deny that ZNS was the unofficial propaganda mouthpiece of the then PLP government. I remember watching those old boring Shakespearian plays on Sunday afternoons back in the eighties. We had no cable TV back then so we had to put up with the foolishness ZNS rammed down our throats. It was ZNS or nothing.
There were talk shows back then on ZNS TV 13, but they were ferociously partisan and boring. On more than one occasion, a ZNS news reader would leave the world of journalism and enter into frontline politics.
I can think of at least two who ran for the PLP. To be fair, though, I know of one former ZNS newscaster who ran for the FNM (Mike Smith in South Beach). Still, as a young man growing up in the turbulent eighties, I thought that the PLP literally owned ZNS. It never dawned on me that the state-run media was fully subsidized by the taxpayers of this country.
Nobody had the temerity to call a spade a spade while on the air. And if anyone did so, he would have been fired either that day or the next. And when that happened, you had nowhere to go. Open dissent was simply not tolerated at ZNS. Today, however, if ZNS fires a newscaster for openly disagreeing with the incumbent government, he can go to one of the many privately-owned media houses that are in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and even Exuma, I think. For example, the BCB fired Chrissy Love from Immediate Response. But she was soon afterwards hired by Guardian Radio. In the eighties, a fired ZNS newscaster would either move to another country in order to find work in his field or change profession.
Bahamians should thank God that Hubert Ingraham opened up the airwaves. Now, the Bahamian people don't have to put up with ZNS TV's subpar programs like they used to before August 1992. We can now watch Cable News 12.
For some reason or another, Ingraham said that ZNS has been turned into a propaganda station by the PLP government. I am not in the position to say if the former FNM leader is accurate or not with his latest accusation against the Christie administration, because I don't watch ZNS TV News. Its news production, in my opinion, is not up to 21st century standards. Cable News 12 just started broadcasting TV news either two or three years ago, yet it has left the dinosaurian ZNS TV News in the dust.
ZNS TV News has been around since the late seventies. It continues to frustrate me that the government of The Bahamas pumps millions of dollars annually into a corporation that no longer has any justifiable reason for continued existence. ZNS TV is anachronistic and hopelessly irrelevant. Seeing that it has been in existence for so many decades, how is it even remotely possible that ZNS cannot stand on its own two legs? Like the Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation, the BCB is a financial albatross around the collective necks of the Bahamian people. The taxpayers are not getting their money's worth. Like BTC, ZNS needs to be privatized.
I can understand why Jones was peeved at what Ingraham said in the press conference. His JCN also produces its own TV news. But I believe that Ingraham was only saying what the majority of Bahamians who watch TV news are raving about: Cable News 12 is by far the number one rated TV newscast in The Bahamas. Its quality is second to none. Oftentimes I wonder if its newscasts are produced in the U.S. because of its superb quality and outstanding production. What's more, Cable News 12 gives you more news stories than either ZNS or JCN.
I have heard over and repeatedly from Grand Bahamians that they prefer Cable News 12 to ZNS. Therefore, I am not at all surprised that Ingraham would endorse Cable News 12. Like most Bahamians, he knows good TV programming when he sees it. Rather than chiding Ingraham for his endorsement of Cable News 12, Jones should do what they are doing in order to compete with them in terms of getting high ratings. Maybe then I would start watching JCN TV News.
- Kevin Evans
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) secured a destructive and body blow victory during the general election. Apart from a miracle from heaven the Free National Movement (FNM) is likely to be in opposition for a long time. Mind you, under the capable and steady hands of Leader of the Opposition Dr. Hubert A. Minnis (FNM-Killarney), that rump party may well emerge from the ashes of defeat in 2017, but it will need a major surgical operation.
Now that the PLP and its greatly underestimated leader have been returned to power, they will both be baptized by fire, in my humble submission. The FNM and its out of touch former leader jacked this nation right up with not the least bit of apparent shame.
Our national debt, as far as most people are aware, exceeds $4.5 billion. The so-called ongoing road works may cost us an additional $70 million to $100 million. Our schools here in New Providence and over in Grand Bahama are literally falling apart.
While Hubert "Nero" Ingraham was singing and preening, the country was being run like an out of control locomotive. The ship appears to have run aground and the shaving cream is smeared all over the fan. Governmental contracts and apparent "perks" for political hacks and cronies were, allegedly, dished out like lamb chops with mint jelly in the weeks leading up to the general election.
According to the best estimates, the PLP administration will require at least $500 million in new borrowings just to keep The Bahamas afloat this fiscal year.
Crime and the appropriate punishment are still problems and no apparent solutions are in sight. The civil service is bloated and very counter-productive, to say the least, but our politicians lack the political will to downsize it.
Our society, as we used to know it, has disintegrated right before our very eyes. Our men and women of the cloth are now wolves and bandits in sheep's clothing. Big rusty men are preying on our youth, be they male or female, and the beat goes on. Affordable housing for the masses in New Providence is but a pipe dream for the vast majority.
The PLP and its leader are now in the process of being baptized by fire. It will take a great deal of ingenuity for them to turn this economy around and to create the 40,000-odd well paying public and private sector jobs required to stabilize employment and under employment. Teenage pregnancies and rampant alleged abortions are moral blights on our collective society and ain't no one checking.
Traffic congestion and management are but figments of our imagination. The traffic police of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, headed by my "good" friend Supt. Ken Strachan, is overwhelmed, under-resourced and, apparently, clueless as to how to bring sanity back to our jacked up roads, especially during rush hours. The commissioner himself seems to have gone AWOL and is nowhere to be seen except at photo opportunities.
Our utilities, inclusive of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) are, clearly, not up to the challenges. With the smallest drop of rain or high winds, BEC has to load shed. BTC was sold with great fanfare a year or so ago and services and options have never been worse with all due respect.
Top management at BEC needs to be shuffled or even made to step back and smell the coffee. Over at BTC, Geoff Houston needs to rationalize his top-heavy management team and come up with a fresh and bold business module. What we are getting and experiencing now is unacceptable and certainly unbelievable.
The PLP clamored for another opportunity to govern our beautiful, if challenged, country and it got its wish. Now that it is in the seat of governance again, it must usher in heaven on earth in the shortest period of time. The electorate has woken up and it will no longer tolerate broken promises and pie in the sky dreams and delusions. We want it (whatever that is) and we (not necessarily Ortland H. Bodie Jr.) want it now.
Baptism by fire is not a pleasant exercise or ritual, as the PLP and its leadership cadre will soon find out. The FNM and its holographic leadership has left us in the unenviable position where we will soon be seeing "dead people" wherever two or more are gathered.
To God then, in all of these things, be the glory.
Ortland H. Bodie Jr.