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Weeks after parting ways with Bimini Big Game Club, Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts has reached an agreement with the Abaco-based Green Turtle Club.
The new alliance becomes effective immediately, as the Green Turtle Club will become the inaugural member of the new Expedition Properties Portfolio by Guy Harvey Outpost. President of Guy Harvey Outpost Mark Ellert said the partnership is a perfect chance to showcase one of the hidden gems in The Bahamas.
"We are extremely excited to launch the Expedition Properties Portfolio with the famed Green Turtle Club as our inaugural member hotel," Ellert said. "Our intent with Expedition Properties is to showcase small, independently owned properties in unique destinations that are focused on watersports recreation and whose owners are committed to customer service, sustainability and conservation.
"Given the Club's legacy, the professionalism of its staff and dedication of its owners, I'm hard pressed to think of a better opportunity in The Bahamas than this."
The news comes after Guy Harvey Outpost cut ties with Bimini Big Game Club earlier in the month, with foreclosure issues influencing the move in another direction. The two former partners had a business relationship for two years, in which Guy Harvey Outpost pumped $3.5 million in renovations to revitalize the Bimini-based resort.
Due to the foreclosure setback, it prevented Guy Harvey Outpost from purchasing the property when it wanted to, which spurred the decision to take its business interests elsewhere.
As an Expedition Property, Guy Harvey Outpost will market the club and offer travel and booking services to its customers through its Outpost Travel Desk and central reservation office. Co-owner of Green Turtle Club Adam Showell said the company led by Ellert was an ideal fit for both parties.
"Guy Harvey embodies the personality of the club, and its guests," Showell said. "His authenticity, commitment to excellence and passionate outreach to those of all ages and accomplishment are hallmarks of the Green Turtle Club."
While the deal between Guy Harvey Outpost and Green Turtle Club is still fresh, Ellert hinted at more opportunities that may await.
"Thirty degrees north and south of the equator, there are a lot of great properties with committed owners like Adam and Ann who share our vision of sustainability and hospitality," he said. "In growing the Expedition Properties Portfolio, our intent will be to spotlight these properties and encourage our customers to support them."
Green Turtle Club offers 31 guest rooms, a 40-slip marina and fuel dock, restaurant, bar/lounge and poolside bar. The Club hosts the annual Green Turtle Club Billfish Tournament, having just concluded its 25th Silver Anniversary last week.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis' comments on the controversy ensnaring Parliamentary Secretary Renward Wells point to a lack of leadership in government, Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis charged yesterday.
Minnis said Davis appears to be "out of order" in those statements, which relate to Wells' fate as a parliamentary secretary.
As previously reported, The Nassau Guardian confirmed that Prime Minister Perry Christie asked for Wells' resignation for reportedly acting outside his authority.
However, Davis said on Monday he still needed to determine if Wells did anything wrong in signing a letter of intent for a $600 million-plus waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill without Cabinet instructions.
Minnis said, "According to the newspaper report, the prime minster had asked Wells to resign.
"The deputy prime minister, on the other hand, said he still needed more time to determine whether Wells did anything wrong.
"It appears that this government is leaderless.
"In either event The Bahamas needs a resolution. The Bahamian people need to know who exactly is in charge of the government and in charge of the country.
"The opposition proposes a suggestion to the prime minister -- call an election.
"If he calls an election, the opposition and the Bahamian people will make a determination and fire the prime minister, deputy prime minister and the PLP."
The matter involving Wells has generated huge public interest, but up to yesterday the government had made no clear statement on it.
While sources with knowledge of the matter told The Nassau Guardian that Wells is expected to make a statement in the House of Assembly today, this could not be confirmed.
When contacted for comment on Sunday, Wells told The Guardian that he was prepared to resign and confirmed that he met with both Christie and Davis, the minister of works who has responsibility for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.
Wells signed the letter of intent with Stellar Waste To Energy Bahamas Limited (SWTEB).
By signing the document, Wells acted above his pay grade, sources said.
Davis told The Guardian in an earlier interview that Wells did not have the authority to sign the letter of intent.
The document stated that it was signed on July 4 by SWTEB Principal Dr. Fabrizio Zanaboni and Wells, former chairman of the National Energy Task Force.
According to the letter of intent, the final agreement is subject to the project developer having obtained approval by the National Economic Council as a foreign investor in The Bahamas, which approval will be applied for after the signing of the letter of intent "which itself does not require prior approval since it is preliminary to the start of the actual project".
The document added: "The letter of intent is valid for 12 months from the date of its signing and will terminate automatically unless extended by mutual consent of the parties releasing the other from their respective obligations, if for any reason the project does not proceed and the intended project is terminated as a result."
The document states that the letter of intent for the project is "between the parliamentary secretary to the minister of works responsible for [the] Bahamas Electricity Corporation for and on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas...and Stellar Waste to Energy (Bahamas) Ltd."
Minnis has said that while it would be the right thing for Wells to resign, he believes that Wells was under orders from someone else.
With a change of government, the new administration has the right and the responsibility to make various changes it deems best in the conduct of the nation's business. This includes the reassignment of human resources in terms of civil servants, board assignments and contracts.
A certain level of patronage is to be expected. So, too the reassignment of senior public officers including permanent secretaries.
Still, during transitions from one administration to the next there is the risk of excess. There is the potential excess of a party's more fervent supporters who often give vent to pent up frustration and a desire for "payback".
Oftentimes this is manifested in supporters blowing off steam. Sometimes the result is unacceptable behavior such as the intimidation of the supporters of other parties and other crude behavior that is unacceptable.
The Government of The Bahamas does not belong to any political party. The government of the day is a caretaker and steward, not a proprietor. Today's government is tomorrow's opposition and vice versa.
In terms of right and proper conduct, we do not accept the baseless and immature argument, "Well the other side did it. Now, it's our time." It is never time to indulge certain mind-sets and behavior, a point we have previously made regardless of who is in office.
The tamping down of excess by one's supporters is always an obligation of political leaders. Excusing or ignoring any such excess reflects on the leaders of a party in or out of office.
Equally important is the question of potential victimization. This may include the cancellation of various contracts including for professional services, consultancies, infrastructure, public maintenance or other purposes.
First, there is the reality of a new government's self-interest. A party that the public believes is indulging in victimization risks a backlash and the loss of support from independent voters and its own supporters.
For example, the canceling of a business contract for a supporter of another party may result in that individual having to lay off employees who voted for or supported the incoming administration.
Then there is the national interest. We simply have to progress beyond the temptation to indulge in the petty, knee-jerk and undemocratic victimization of others that we have witnessed in various governments over the years. It is wrong and it generates an unhealthy bitterness in the society.
Those who do not recognize that it is in their self-interest and in the national interest to demonstrate restraint and maturity may pay a price for such behavior even as that behavior exacts a cost on our progress as a nation.
One example of political maturity by the new Christie administration would be to retain some of the talented Bahamians already serving on a number of public boards.
While we expect such boards to be substantially populated by new appointees of the new Government, there are individuals with certain experience, and technical or academic expertise, who should be retained for the national good.
We are too small a country to dismiss certain talent because "they aren't one of us" or because "we don't know how they voted".
Who will be the effective opposition to the PLP in
government and in the next Elections is an interesting proposition. The primary
opposing political force must have as clear and decisive a direction as the
governing PLP party. It is apparent that the FNM with its nine sitting members
of Parliament will be the official opposition, but is there a role for the DNA
The efficacy of
opposition parties and their viability in the next Election cycle is a most
important issue for the protection of the interests and concerns of the Bahamian
Diaspora abroad. The Council for Concerned Bahamians Abroad (CBA) will be
closely monitoring and reporting on the progress of the opposition parties, as
currently their future appears to be uncertain...
General elections in The Bahamas are normally held every five years at which time the characteristic fanfare and excitement often overshadow the messages of the parties seeking the votes of the electorate. The election season is often viewed as a major event by Bahamians; rallies are perceived by some to involve multiple nights of festivities, jubilation and partying. During this period, emotionalism and slogans tend to drown out the voices of reason, logic and practicality.
It would not be surprising if many readers had already found themselves embarking on a journey to what is referred to by some as the "silly season". This is where this writer pauses to state that we are not in the election season; although it is often said that political parties and politicians are always in election mode, our country is at a crossroads and this is not the time for the promotion of self-interest over the national interest. Politicians and persons with political ambitions on all sides of the political divide should therefore consider suspending their self-promotion and self-centered campaigns for one true campaign - the campaign to create a better Bahamas for all Bahamians.
The critical matters at hand
The Bahamian economy continues to make a slow but steady recovery in the aftermath of the Great Recession. We are faced with a huge fiscal deficit, high national debt, threats of sovereign rating downgrade and an overall fiscal imbalance. The rate of unemployment remains high with youth unemployment at an unacceptable level. The populace is plagued by crime and the fear of crime as certain elements among us seek to jeopardize our way of life and seem to be out to hold the nation hostage by threatening our number one industry.
The scourges of illegal migration and poaching in our waters continue to put a strain on the public purse and drain our limited resources in a challenging economic climate. The challenges faced by our number two industry in the form of international pressures, an evolving landscape for tax cooperation and increasing regulatory burden are well documented. Then we have the decades-long issue of gender inequality that is inscribed in our constitution and discriminates mainly against Bahamian women.
Are we making any progress at all?
The economy of The Bahamas is expected to continue on a path of modest growth in the coming years in line with the global economy, with the exception of few countries whose economies are overachieving. This seems to be the new normal; however, there is reason for optimism in relation to our economy with the materialization of local and foreign direct investment in the coming months. The key point here is that the opportunities they provide must be for both employment and entrepreneurship. Additionally, the GFS deficit has been on a gradual decline as we seek to address our financial woes.
The most recent report from the Department of Statistics showed that the unemployment rate fell from 15.4 percent to 14.3 percent while the number of discouraged workers also fell. While youth unemployment remains a serious concern, the overall rate of unemployment is going in the right direction and the prime minister has expressed optimism that the rate will continue to fall. Our proud sons and daughters of the Royal Bahamas Police Force must be commended for rising up to the challenge in the fight against crime and lawlessness in our beloved country. We cannot deny that their hard work is being felt, and the results of their efforts are apparent throughout the archipelago, although there is much work to be done.
The Bahamas government, acting on our behalf, has invested in vessels for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) to address concerns raised by we the people regarding illegal migration and poaching. While these are long-term investments, we expect results from these purchases and the reinforcement of the manpower of the RBDF.
What about legislation?
Our parliamentarians have a mandate from the people of this country to pass laws that promote social justice, preserve our freedom - in all senses of the word - and, above all, ensure that the said laws are in our best interest as a country. The legislative agenda of any government must be inspired and guided by these basic principles. The bills tabled last week that are expected to pave the way for the November 6, 2014 constitutional referendum meet the criteria aforementioned.
While the proposed value-added tax (VAT) has been the topic of much discussion, analysis, studies and sometimes contention, the VAT Bill and Regulations were tabled in the House of Assembly last week providing for consultation and increased certainty on the details of the proposed tax system. It is encouraging to hear government officials echo the sentiments of the private sector that the current fiscal dilemma we face cannot be addressed simply or solely by generating more revenue. Prudence and financial discipline as well as better tax administration must be a major part of the reform package.
The campaign of all campaigns
Prime Minister Christie made an interesting comment last week in relation to his plans for the next few years and the anticipated general election. He indicated that his focus is on addressing the challenges facing the country, inferring that he is not in election mode or campaigning for the 2017 general election when there is so much work to be done today to better the lives of Bahamians. While undoubtedly he will have to address his future plans eventually, he is right in saying that politics must not supercede the interests, well-being and current urgent needs of the Bahamian people.
Political leaders and individuals aspiring for high office in our country must join the campaign for Bahamians and ditch the campaign for themselves; the movement to wipe every tear from every eye must be everyone's business. We must learn to give credit where it is due and not criticize without merit based on our political affiliations. The current administration has had and will have challenges; however, there have been some initiatives implemented that have been aimed at moving the country forward.
We the employers, the Bahamian people, will make our decision on who to employ at the polls when the time is right. The time is not now and we will make that decision in 2017 based on the actual performance (not the dramatic or theatrical performance) and proposed plan of the government, current opposition party and groups presenting themselves as viable alternatives.
One of the main things we will consider is the position taken on issues of national importance and whether they are in our interest or merely for political expediency. The earliest opportunity will present itself during the discourse on gender equality. Will the government's opponents support and encourage persons to support this progressive move, or will they take a hands-off approach without taking sides in the debate? We will revisit this topic at a later date, but in the interim, this is a call to suspend political campaigns for one vital campaign: a national campaign aimed at a common loftier goal that knows no gender, race, politics, social status or religion - the campaign for a better Bahamas.
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to email@example.com.
Callenders & Co. Senior Associate Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, a former commercial jet pilot and the first Bahamian to be admitted to the Lawyer Pilots Bar Association, today outlined a three-step process he says could pave the way for the establishment of an aircraft registry in The Bahamas.
The first step is to ratify the Cape Town Treaty (Aircraft Convention), says Boyer-Cartwright, who has actively led the call for an international aircraft registry in The Bahamas. "Becoming a signatory to the Cape Town Convention builds international confidence in The Bahamas as a serious and competitive aviation jurisdiction, by eliminating uncertainty about who has a right to buy, sell, lease or even repossess an aircraft or its engines," said Boyer-Cartwright. "It is the equivalent of having a GPS or tracking device so you always know where what you own or lease is at all times. Without that protection, an engine could be sold while it is thousands of miles away from its owner whether that owner is a corporation, institution or individual. It sounds bizarre, but it can and has happened where engines have been sold to third parties. The only protection is to be covered under the Cape Town Treaty Convention. This is really important in a world where the biggest increase in the aircraft industry is in smaller planes, in fractional ownership and corporate jets."
The United States, the full European Union, India, China and, in our own region, Aruba - all countries that would be competitive international aircraft registry jurisdictions - are signatories, he noted.
"Not being a signatory to the Cape Town Convention puts us at a great disadvantage," said Boyer-Cartwright. "And I think the only reason we are not is that it has not been a priority. It was just not at the forefront of anyone's mind. There are no drawbacks. It's totally a win-win situation."
The second step is to create and appoint a committee or body to establish the framework for an aircraft registry and create an Aviation Authority.
"This should involve representatives from all interested sectors, finance, law and, of course, Civil Aviation," said Boyer-Cartwright, who flew thousands of air miles before turning his attention to law and joining the country's oldest law firm, Callenders & Co., headquartered in Nassau with satellite offices elsewhere.
The third step, but one that is not immediately essential to the start-up of an aircraft registry, is the removal of 10 percent stamp duty on aircraft.
"Elimination of duty on aircraft would not be a great loss to government as little duty is collected now because there are so few aircraft on the register in The Bahamas. It would also be more of an incentive for domestic or Bahamas-based airlines to own rather than lease aircraft," said Boyer-Cartwright. "There are so many other ways to generate revenue through dutiable goods and supplies for aircraft maintenance and operation that the way we are doing it now is actually, in my opinion, costing rather than creating revenue."
But, he said, duty-related discussions should not stop government from taking immediate action to set the establishment of an international aircraft registry in motion.
A presentation to shareholders in London by the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) has revealed that nearly 50 percent of an oil spill would strike Cuba if there is no intervention.
Conversely, far less than one percent of the oil released from a spill would reach the shoreline in The Bahamas, as the majority would be evaporated, biodegraded or blown out to sea. The U.S. is also mostly out of harm's way, according to the presentation.
The results from BPC came from thousands of simulated spills lasting 60 days and tracked over 90 days.
"The goal of this simulation is to detail the evolution and movement of an oil spill in any permutation of prevailing conditions during the 2004-2010 period," a recent BPC report noted. "This extended period enables the inclusion of not only seasonal variation, but also more rapid changes, like those in the ambient Florida Current, as well as the extreme impact of hurricanes, especially given the inclusion of data from the intense 2005 season."
The oil explorer highlighted that "trans-border planning and response will be important".
A series of regional forums on contingencies after an oil spill disaster have begun to address these issues, according to Joshua Sears, director general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He told Guardian Business that a number of meetings have occurred in recent months, although The Bahamas has not attended all of them. The last time the country participated in a forum was back in December 2011, when five different nations shared oil exploration risks and opportunities in Nassau.
"Some may consider [the fact that it went so well] surprising in that they didn't know what to expect. But I had the advantage of attending a similar forum in Mexico recently. Deepwater was a wake-up call for us all," he said in December, referring to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in April 2010.
In fact, in a recent report, BPC said contracting oil spill containment operators and their equipment in both The Bahamas and Cuba will be essential to any recovery effort.
BPC executives have enlisted third-party entities to carry out environmental impact assessments (EIA), and stressed that geologically speaking, The Bahamas is entirely different than what crews faced in the Gulf of Mexico.
BPC has created "an environmental sensitivity map" to prioritize mangroves, coral reefs and other environmental and socioeconomic sensitive areas around the drilling.
"The projected minimum time to shoreline impact varies depending on the location, but is anticipated to exceed two days, giving realistic time to mobilize all required equipment from inside and outside of The Bahamas," its 2011 annual report said.
The recent presentation to shareholders further noted that BPC is attempting to align itself with "best practices" in jurisdictions such as Norway, the UK and the U.S. "as we prepare to drill".
"All parties are committed to responsible exploration and preserving the environment for future generations," the presentation concluded.
Death sentences for two convicts
NIB staff members walk off the job
Anxiety still high among CLICO policyholders
Man charged with killing love rival
Bahamas students win Caribbean law challenge
Paul Moss resigns from PLP
Baha Mar deal with Chinese partners nears
Grant responds to Hanna-Martin on road safety
Trial of Melvin Maycock Sr. postponed
Relief funds forwarded to Haiti
Police up focus on visitor safety
Pastors Forum donates $3,000 to aid Haiti
Liquidators for CLICO (Bahamas) are close to cementing the sale of 41.16 acres in Wellington Preserve, a move that will recover nearly $5 million.
According to documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy court in the Southern District of Florida, the proposed "Garber sale" should be approved within the next 30 days, pending a due diligence period.
Ronald Neiwirth, the U.S.-based attorney acting for the insolvent insurer's Bahamian liquidator Craig A. 'Tony' Gomez, has executed a new purchase and sale agreement (PSA) with Symon V. Garber.
"Consequently, the relief sought seeks a second order further amending the confirmed second amended plan of liquidation in two particular areas: First, to authorize the debtor to enter into the proposed PSA with Garber and to close the transaction contemplated by the Garber PSA; and second, to provide that the debtor shall continue to market the remaining 242 acres of land whether as one parcel or as several," the court document said.
The net proceeds, it concluded, minus closing costs and other fees, will go towards the liquidating estate of CLICO Enterprises as partial payment of principal on account of its allowed unsecured claim.
This latest sale follows the "J-5 and Tanen" transaction on May 12, when the liquidator sold a 138.3-acre tract at Wellington Preserve for $13.384 million, the majority of which will be returned to the insolvent insurer's Bahamian subsidiary, CLICO Enterprises.
Guardian Business understands that the $13 million sale, finalized with a prominent individual in the equestrian world, should have a "domino effect" and help generate future sales.
Wellington Preserve is considered by many to be ideal farm and horse-breeding land.
"I know what our real estate broker tells us, that once that domino fell, others might want to bask in his limelight to be part of it," Neiwirth revealed. "This is hopefully part of an avalanche to get rid of the remaining property."
While there is still 240 acres to go, he noted that there are already many interested parties in the remaining plots of land. In this latest $4.7 million deal, Neiwirth said the price per acre is "considerably higher" than the larger 138-acre transaction.
That deal went for under $100,000 per acre, he added, and this latest sale is going for approximately $115,000 per acre - an improvement of nearly 20 percent.
He told Guardian Business that Wellington Preserve has "bottomed out in terms of price", and the strategy of parceling up smaller pieces of land at higher prices is paying off.
Neiwirth credits Gomez, a partner at Baker Tilly Gomez, with spearheading this plan to sell off little farms and horse ranches in bunches of 20 to 40 acres.
"His strategy seems to be working very nicely," he added.
"This is basically very well off horse country, for people who have millions, but even when you have millions you don't want to throw $20 million or $30 million into places to keep your horses. You're not really living there."
CLICO Enterprises is owed around $73 million by the Florida-based real estate project.
Neiwirth said a total recovery of $40 million is indeed possible, which would be approximately 55 percent of what's owed to policyholders and creditors.
CLICO Enterprises is the entity through which CLICO (Bahamas) invested funds into Wellington Preserve.
The new Free National Movement (FNM) leadership team has its first task clearly in front of it. The party is $1 million in debt from the 2012 election campaign, according to its former Leader Hubert Ingraham.
"When those who oppose us commenced their election television campaigns early, we did not; not because we did not wish to but because we could not afford a television campaign. We needed more money to run a more effective campaign this year," said Ingraham on Saturday at Holy Trinity Activities Centre, Stapledon Gardens.
Ingraham also revealed another interesting figure. He said the party raised $131,000 through online donations during the three-plus-week period the party pushed for such donations during the campaign. Some 363 individuals donated online, 30 people made direct deposits at the bank and others took small cash donations to FNM headquarters at Mackey Street, according to Ingraham.
"I believe that this initiative to involve a wide cross section of Bahamians in supporting our party bodes well for the development of our democracy. It is my hope that such fundraising will continue, demonstrating real ownership of our party by the people," he said.
If such a sum can be raised in such a short time, parties could raise even more from small donations year-round, especially emphasizing online donations. U.S. President Barack Obama has mastered this method of fundraising regularly asking his supporters through emails for "$3 or whatever you can" to boost his reelection effort.
In The Bahamas, we have no campaign finance laws. Often the party that is able to solicit the biggest donations from the most "generous" investors - often foreign - has the advantage. This wide-open system gives foreigners who want something specific in return tremendous influence over our political system and our politicians. It also gives that same power to the richest Bahamians.
The small and medium-sized donations model is more democratic. If parties raised most of their money from smaller donations from a large number of people, these parties and their leaders would be less beholden to the narrow interests of plutocrats.
Additionally, more Bahamians would feel they have a stake in the work of their parties, as they actually invested financially in them. This would make political parties more like publicly traded companies with the wide base of donors being like shareholders.
The Bahamas could easily begin its move to regulating campaign financing by banning foreign money in our elections and capping donations. The new FNM Leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis, said in a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian that he thinks there needs to be some form of campaign finance reform and hopes that Prime Minister Perry Christie would be open to the idea. If Dr. Minnis is serious he should push for the initiative. That would demonstrate that he is a reformer. The issue has not been touched by FNM or Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administrations.
We must protect our democracy from those who seek to openly buy the influence of our political leaders. Such laws are overdue.