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News Article
CBA Analytical Report: Comparative Analysis of Political Party Economic Development Plans

Bahamas -

Now that the PLP has
released its Vision 2030 Charter For Governance, the Council For
Concerned Bahamians Abroad (CBA) has completed its comparative review of
the three official governance documents released by the Parties
contesting the upcoming Bahamas Elections. The FNM released its
Manifesto, and the DNA its Vision 2012 and Beyond, weeks earlier.

The comparative analysis is designed
to evaluate the Plans in areas the CBA has identified as most essential
to the future successful development of the Bahamas. The review
analyses the plans in three major areas...

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News Article
(Photos) Carifringe: Bahamian Dance Theatre Company Performance

Nassau, Bahamas - As part of CariFringe the

Bahamian Dance Theatre Company performed on Sunday, October 3rd at The Hub.  Enclosed are photos by BJ Daxon II.

CariFringe is an annual ten day regional arts and culture festival
scheduled to take place in the city of Nassau, The Bahamas. The
inaugural festival will take place the

1st - 11th of October 2010, and
will be a multidisciplinary cultural event composed of a wide range of
activities including theatrical productions, concerts, art exhibitions,
literary readings, social gatherings, workshops, discussions, parties
and craft markets from a variety of creative communities locally and

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News Article
WTO: Harmful or helpful Part 2

If we're not just tying up the loose ends of a former government - obligated to finalize the agreement simply because we started the process more than a decade ago - what's the real reason for us pushing so hard to confirm our membership in the WTO? And what does our country with its unusual balance of services and goods see as the real benefits to joining?
Are we pursuing membership in the WTO to trade tourism and banking services? That doesn't sound right. Those who want to trade in tourism and banking services come to our shores to do it, or they do it from abroad as they always have.
Are we joining the WTO to trade our goods? Well, what exactly are we exporting that necessitates the WTO membership we seek? Our exports aren't many and the goods we do produce are already being traded.
Furthermore, once we open our doors to the WTO our domestic production costs will increase with fewer people buying local products and so our exports will become relatively more expensive, at least for a while. That doesn't sound like a reasonable hope to export more in the near future.
Or, is our engagement with the WTO less about securing markets in which to sell the things we make and more about securing markets from which to buy all the imports we want at the lowest possible prices?
And if we want so much to be a part of a major world trading bloc, does what we discover about free trade in the process of subjecting ourselves to world scrutiny not emphasize the need to place our production efforts on goods and not only or predominantly on services?
But since we are again riding the cart-driven horse, and we're already knocking on the WTO door, we owe it to ourselves to contemplate and answer all of our concerns and doubts about it.
And one concern that has not been tabled but which may be the biggest concern about the WTO is the process of accession which is not transparent to anyone other than a couple of our politicians and a group of other politicians from countries whose eyes glaze over at our appetite for cheap imports.
All the details of our accession to the WTO are negotiated behind closed doors. Yes, we elect government officials and entrust them with the recurring duty of representing our collective needs and wishes, but the lack of transparency at that level of compromise is risky, especially given the historic lack of due diligence on the part of our representatives to properly investigate the real value of our resources and negotiate the best deals for us.
Whereas it is understandable that a private contract is typically negotiated confidentially between the individual parties involved, it's unsettling that others, some without any vested interest in our true welfare, are secretly negotiating the future of all Bahamian citizens - business persons and others. And we are not allowed to know any of the details of their discussions until they've reached a final, binding agreement, one which I and all my countrywomen and countrymen can only hope will be in our combined best interests.
The track record of negotiating anything on the world stage in favor of the Bahamian people, by current and former governments, is not very impressive. We should be able to flex more muscle for the benefit of our people, but our muscles atrophy in the wake of important issues and in the presence of world powers. Perhaps this is due to insufficient, regular exercise at managing issues that really matter. But whatever the reason, we need all the information - and muscle - we can get to see our way clearly through WTO negotiations.
As it stands, our political leaders can negotiate terms for us in the WTO that Bahamians would never support in a transparent regime or democratic vote and without knowing what those things are long before negotiations are complete.
And this presents a classic example of what some trade economists refer to as policy laundering.
For The Bahamas and its accession to the WTO, this is how that policy laundering scenario plays out:
The government is deeply in debt and the debt is rapidly growing. It needs more revenue. It has had the prospect of WTO membership lingering for over a decade. It tells the citizens that we need to be party to the WTO because it's long overdue, but a fundamental requirement of this association is to remove or greatly reduce the main source of government revenue (taxes/ tariffs on imported goods at the border) and replace it with another tax to compensate for the loss.
The Bahamian government knows the Bahamian people don't want to hear anything about paying taxes, since they hardly pay the ones that exist, so to sell its plan the government makes the WTO the reason for the new taxes. And because it makes a massive trade agreement the reason for the new source of tax revenue it requires, the only tax that makes sense is the value-added tax (VAT).
It's a backdoor method of bringing into law or existence something which is unwelcome or widely unpopular. Rather than implement the desired policy from within the country it is done at the international level and imposed upon the people as the most acceptable policy in the international arena; because it is, it cannot be denied or challenged.
In effect, the acts of creating an alliance, signing a binding agreement, making national policy changes or seeking the passage of new law become, as one author puts it, an 'erosion of civil liberties', where the people's democratic rights are compromised, along with the country's sovereign rights, because it is all left to be decided at a level even 'higher' than the people and executives of a country.
Before we become fully committed to the WTO, we should know:
Firstly, is this a reversible decision, if we no longer want to be a part of the WTO?
The 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act of the United States Congress provides that every five years the president reports on WTO participation and the congress votes on whether to remain in the WTO.
What if The Bahamas said, ahead of or after accession, "Yes, we've been watching you for 13 years but we're no longer interested"? Is this conceivable? How would this be received? Will we be blacklisted, or sanctioned, as a result of a change in direction we perceive to be better for us?
Secondly, has any country ever been dismissed from the WTO or left the organization of their own volition? If so, under what circumstances and by what methods? And what was the end result of its departure?
Thirdly, will this accession to the WTO eventually force us to remove our currency peg to the U.S. dollar, when, as a result of an unprecedented increase in U.S. imports and decrease in Bahamian exports, our U.S. currency demand becomes far greater than our demand for our own currency?
Could we, one day soon, become a U.S. dollar-only economy?
o Nicole Burrows is an academically trained economist. She can be contacted at: or

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News Article
Important URCA guidelines for Bahamas political broadcasts 2012

The information in this article was extracted directly from the document; Code of Practice for Content Service - ECS 06/2012 from URCA. The greater portion of the rules and regulations related to political broadcasts are contained herein. For further information and to download the document in its entirety, be sure to visit their website;

This Part of the Code sets out the standards applicable to the
broadcasting of political advertisements and election programmes
arranged and paid for by potential candidates, actual candidates,
political parties and other persons or entities outside of election

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News Article
Patience required to build a third party

Bamboo Town MP Branville McCartney has formed his Democratic National Alliance and is fighting blow for blow with the big parties. But what will be his fate on May 7?
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was formed in 1953 mostly by a group of white and light-skinned black Bahamians. The party was taken over by others and rebranded as a black nationalist party. That PLP finally won a general election, under the electoral rules of the day, in 1967.
The Free National Movement (FNM) was formed in 1971. It battled the PLP for more than two decades before finally winning a general election in 1992.
There is no easy path for a new party. History has demonstrated that it takes time for the Bahamian people to get to know the new player in town.
McCartney should pursue his dream of leading a third party to victory if he wishes. More choice is good when it comes to elections. However, he should not assume that he will be prime minister in a few days.
The last major politician to try the third party route was former PLP deputy leader Dr. Bernard Nottage in 2002 when his Coalition for Democratic Reform (CDR) took on the two major parties. Dr. Nottage's party failed and he lost his seat. CDR candidates were crushed as non-contenders at the polls.
The CDR disbanded shortly after losing that general election.
If defeat is to be McCartney's fate, he should not give up if he is serious about creating a movement able to challenge the PLP and FNM some day.
The public needs to be convinced that the people seeking to lead the country are dedicated to that ambition. Bahamians also need to be convinced that those seeking to lead have enough experience in public life to do so.
As we have said before, the key for any third party movement would be to determine if dissatisfaction with the main parties could be harnessed into votes. This process may take time.
But what McCartney and his third party would need to survive is some presence in the Parliament. He should work on ensuring that his party wins at least one seat (that is, McCartney's seat).
If Bahamians see that the new party at least has some presence after this election, that would help the party at the following general election.
Ultimately, Bahamians will have to decide if they will accept others at the national table of decision making or if they think only card carrying PLPs or FNMs should lead The Bahamas.
If Bran is serious, he should be patient. The PLP and the FNM had to wait long periods before the people believed in them.

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News Article
Bid to block double-voting

With more than 6,000 people having cast ballots in Tuesday's advanced general election poll, Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel said yesterday the Parliamentary Registration Department has put measures in place to ensure that none of those people will be able to vote again on election day.
Bethel said his office has been very concerned about the question of 'double-voting' since legislation to expand the advanced poll was passed.
"We're going through a very tedious process right now of making sure that all of the counterfoils that were used [Tuesday] are sorted and put back in those tins," Bethel said.
"We have those marked and we know who the people are who voted. We want to make it clear that we have the counterfoils and we know who did vote and we're going to put all of those in place.
"So if [those persons who voted] appear, once the counterfoil is pulled, immediately the person who pulled the counterfoil will be able to show that to the presiding officer and say, 'this person has cast a ballot already'."
A counterfoil is an identical copy of a stamped voter's card that the Parliamentary Registration Department keeps to record who has voted.
Nearly 8,000 people were registered to vote in the advanced poll.
Though he could not give an exact figure of the number of people who voted Tuesday, Bethel said the turnout was "very high".
Bethel said that thousands voted at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs Gymnasium, one of two advanced polling centers on New Providence.
"At the Kendal Isaacs gym, I know that more than 2,200 people voted," Bethel said. "The other location (The College of The Bahamas' Tourism Training Centre) had more people than the Kendal Isaacs gym, so I'm sure the number from there would be higher. The constituencies with the larger numbers were put at the Tourism Training Centre.
"The numbers in the Family Islands were not big, except for in Freeport, where the number [of voters] exceeded 1,000."
There were 7,865 people registered to vote in the advanced poll, including election workers, agents of political parties, defence force, police force and customs and immigration officers, overseas voters and special voters.

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News Article
Bahamas welcomes electoral observers

NASSAU, The Bahamas - The Bahamas welcomed a team of electoral observers from the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to observe its General Elections on May 7, 2012.
An agreement was signed between The Bahamas Parliamentary Registration Department and the General Secretariat of the OAS on the Electoral Observation Process. It established the scope and coverage of the electoral observation mission in question.

The Bahamas has guaranteed conditions of security, free access to information and full cooperation with the electoral observation mission. The teams have also been granted permission to visit with leaders of the political parties and members of Civil Society who can give further insight into The Bahamas' electoral process.
The CARICOM observers have also been granted the same latitude. However the OAS entered into a formal agreement in accordance with the principles and norms of the organisation. The OAS has a team of 18 and CARICOM a team of 10.

The mission may inform the Parliamentary Registration Department about any irregularities and or interference which the mission might observe or, of which the mission might learn. And similarly, the mission may request that the Parliamentary Registration Department provide any information regarding the measures which the department will take in relation to such irregularities.

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News Article
Political parties planning whirlwind tours across the country

The three major political parties have planned whirlwind tours across the country as they enter the final leg of their political campaigns.
An event is scheduled each night for the Free National Movement (FNM), the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) as they continue to spread their messages.
The FNM intends to visit several Family Islands before Monday.
Several events are scheduled in New Providence this week, including mass rallies on Clifford Park on Thursday and Saturday, and a gospel event at R. M. Bailey Park on the eve of the May 7 general election.
The PLP also plans to visit several islands.
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said the party wants the Bahamian people to remember that the PLP is the only choice.
"We want people to vote for us because we are the best party and will serve their interests," he said.
Roberts said the FNM has proven that it is not fit to lead the country.
On Sunday, the PLP also intends to culminate its campaign with a gospel event that will be announced.
Additionally, a mass rally is scheduled for Clifford Park on Friday.
As for the DNA, Chairman Mark Humes said the party intends to continue to work the constituencies.
Major events are also planned throughout the week.
DNA Leader Branville McCartney has recorded a political address, which will be broadcast on channel 12 tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Additionally, the DNA will hold a rally at Christie Park on Wednesday night and another at the recreational grounds on Market Street on Saturday night.
The DNA will also hold rallies on Long Island and Abaco.
Humes said the party wants voters to consider the DNA when they head to the polls today and on May 7.
"I want voters to take a look at where we are and how we got here, and really consider whether they want to continue doing the same thing over and over," he said.
"Do they want to continue going back and forth between the FNM and PLP, and always holding their breath and hoping that one of them would get it right?
"This is a period of change. We would want them to really recognize what we've done to ensure that change is possible."
The advanced poll will take place today in New Providence at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium and The College of The Bahamas between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
It will also take place on Family Islands and at various Bahamas embassies and consulates overseas.
As previously reported, 7,865 people are registered to vote in the advanced poll, including election workers, agents of political parties, defence force, police force, customs and immigration officers, and special voters.

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News Article
CBA Questions the Pennies on the Dollar Re-Sale of the Country's Most Important Private Asset

Atlantis, the Country's most Important privately held
asset has for a second time been sold for pennies on the dollar. The Atlantis
Properties with a book and market value of more than two billion dollars has
been sold to Brookfield Assets a Canadian conglomerate for a fire sale price of
175 million in a debt for equity swap arrangement. This is the second time the
sale has occurred since November 2011. This time however, the only difference
according to details announced is that the parties have apparently reached a
deal with the other creditors who sued to stop the first sale. The Bahamas
government also announced in a televised press conference with Atlantis
management, that it had approved the deal with guarantees that the work force,
level of operational funding and investment will be maintained at current
levels. The deal being announced just prior to the General Elections has a ring
of political...

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News Article
FNM, DNA court vote of uniformed officers

Respective leaders of the Free National Movement (FNM) and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) on Thursday night made similar pleas for public servants and members of the armed forces to vote for their parties in the advanced poll set for Tuesday.
During the FNM's mass rally on Clifford Park, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham encouraged Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Force officers to consider their futures with the government that has committed to more resources, salary increases, uniform allowances and promotion exercises.
"Going forward we will require more from you and so we will also do more for you," he said.
"You know that when we can, we increase your pay and improve your terms and conditions of employment."
Ingraham added, "I note also that the Public Service Commission is presently completing the resumed service-wide promotion exercise [that was] suspended."
Meanwhile, DNA Leader Branville McCartney predicted that Police and defence force, customs and immigration and prison officers would vote for the DNA in the advanced poll, as they are tired of the Ingraham-led government.
"Reliable sources tell me that [they] all have gone green," McCartney told supporters during his party's rally in Golden Gates.

"Successive governments have shown little to no respect for the armed forces of this country and every election time they give out promotions to try to gain votes."
Ingraham previously announced that around 7,865 people are registered to vote in the advanced poll, including election workers, agents of political parties, Defence Force, Police Force and custom and immigration officers, and special voters.
Of that figure, there are approximately 420 students and other Bahamians registered to vote abroad, according to Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel.
Sherlyn Hall, deputy permanent secretary at the Parliamentary Registration Department, told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that 3,865 are registered voters, who would not be able to vote on Election Day due to illness, hospitalization or previously scheduled travel.
Those registered voters will be able to vote between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m at two polling stations in New Providence, which will be located at The College of The Bahamas and Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
Changes made recently to the Parliamentary Elections Act allow students and other eligible Bahamians to vote in Miami, Atlanta, Washington, New York, London, Toronto, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
Stations have also been established on the Family Islands and overseas voters will have the ability to vote at Bahamian embassies, high commissions or other foreign missions, including high consuls.

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