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News Article

May 16, 2011
BTC Eager to see Competitive Telecoms Landscape in The Bahamas

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company
Ltd. (BTC) notes the Interim Order issued by URCA on Friday 13th
May 2011 which sets out the timetable and conditions for the negotiations
between BTC and System Resource Group (SRG) of a new Interconnection
Agreement (IA) based on BTC's soon to be approved Reference Access
and Interconnection Offer (RAIO).

 

The RAIO is the public document issued
by BTC and approved by URCA that sets out the parameters and guidelines
by which other licensed operators (OLOs)  in the Bahamian marketplace
interconnect with BTC to provide their services to BTC's customers
and permits BTC to provide its services to the OLO's customers. 
The RAIO facilitates the processes that ensure fluid operations for
all related parties...

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News Article

May 22, 2012
The first 100 days

The first 100 days frame is famously the invention of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he first took office in 1933 promising a "New Deal" in response to the Great Depression. Since then, the frame has been used to evaluate the early days of new presidential administrations.
During the election campaign the PLP employed the frame detailing for voters what the party promised to accomplish during its first 100 days. The wisdom of utilizing such a frame will become clearer in the months ahead as many will use it in assessing the Christie administration's first months in office.
But it is not that pledge that is the main thrust of today's Front Porch. The first 100 days of a new government also concern the nature of political transitions. The remarkable thing about the transition of office from the FNM to the PLP is that it was unremarkable. After a hard fought election, power was transferred peacefully.
Hubert Ingraham conceded defeat. Perry Christie claimed victory and was sworn in the next day.

Hubert Minnis is now leader of the opposition. There is a new Cabinet in place. What a wonderful democracy and example to the world!
And, no, this was not the most contentious general election we have ever had. There have been elections with more serious incidents of violence and greater invective. This was not 1962 or 1987 when the will of the people was likely thwarted by widespread irregularities and fraud.

Troubling
Yes, there continue to be various corrupt practices including voting irregularities on Election Day and vote-buying. The question of campaign financing, especially from foreign sources, remains a deeply troubling element of our campaigns. Still, our democracy is flawed, not failed.
The usual suspects and some taken in by their hackneyed analysis were again proven wrong. Ninety percent of registered voters cast ballots. The Elizabeth by-election was not predictive of voter turnout in the general election. And the overwhelming number of voters supported one of the major parties.
The PLP's pledge aside, the first 100 days after a change of government offer important clues about the future of a new government and of the opposition. The content of the Speech from the Throne and the debate on the government's legislative agenda will be an early test for the PLP and the FNM.
What are the long-term implications of Prime Minister Christie's Cabinet selections? For example, Christie has appointed Jerome Fitzgerald as minister of education. It takes experienced ministers time to grasp, much less master the bureaucratic behemoth that is the Ministry of Education, the largest ministry.
Just as Hubert Ingraham persuaded Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, an expert and innovative thinker in tourism, to serve as minister of tourism, might Christie have prevailed upon someone like Sean McWeeney to serve as minister of education? It was also curious that Christie chose as speaker of the House of Assembly someone who has no experience in Parliament.
In addition to personnel choices, the immediate and intermediate fiscal and policy choices the newly incumbent administration makes will have longer-term consequences for its success. The assessment by the international credit agency Moody's of the PLP's home mortgage plan presents the new government with of one of its first major policy conundrums.
There are not only the policies and pronouncements of a new government. There is also the tone set over matters like civil service reassignments, the awarding and cancelling of contracts, and other decisions which give voters first impressions of a new administration.

Punting
By example, the country wants quick action on various fronts. Punting critical decisions to commissions or committees will not sit well with a public anxious about crime, jobs and the economy.
It is not only the new government that is in transition. So too, the opposition. With Hubert Ingraham leaving frontline politics, the FNM is set to have a new generation of leaders take center stage in the party and in Parliament. While unhappy with its loss the FNM is not in a defeatist mood.
Having lost, the FNM is now in better position than the PLP to present a new face to younger voters, many who voted for the DNA, and others desirous of a new generation of political leaders.
Following May 7 there has been disingenuous commentary by a handful who queried whether the FNM can survive its loss at the polls. One such sanctimonious pontificator appeared on television offering pompous purple prose masquerading as informed commentary on the FNM's survivability.
The beauty of a verifiable historical record is that it easily rebuts the self-serving historical revisionism by some. The movement and ideals which gave birth to the FNM not only survived, they continue to flourish.
The attempt to stab and perhaps kill Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield the night of the no-confidence vote against Sir Lynden Pindling in 1970 failed. The Free PLP went on to form one of the country's two major parties surviving two decades in opposition before winning office in 1992. As some supporters of the FNM like to say, the party is used to getting a cut (expletive deleted).
The FNM and its leaders survived a vicious attack in 1970 at Lewis Yard in Grand Bahama where Sir Cecil and others were brutally attacked as police officers turned a blind eye. FNM leaders and supporters were denounced as traitors even on ZNS Radio.

Egregious
There was mass victimization of FNMs including the particularly egregious case of Wellington Smith, a Turks Islander living in Inagua who worked at Morton Salt. Though not himself an active FNM supporter he was deported back to the Turks and Caicos because his wife supported the FNM. He had to leave his Bahamian wife and seven children in Inagua.
The Smith family and others were torn apart by this and other acts of victimization by successive Pindling administrations which victimized the FNM rank and file. Some of the bitterness lingers up to this day.
The party went through a disastrous split in 1977. Yet, the FNM survived.

In due course it will return to office just as it rebounded from a worse beating in 2002. Some likewise predicted the demise of the PLP which got a shellacking in 1992 and 1997, only to return to office in 2002 after which it lost power in 2007, and has now returned to government.
Some commentators are still of the view that the natives can't govern themselves, that voters would stay home in droves, and that "this" election - 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 - would be "the year" of the independents or third parties. That they have been repeatedly proven wrong does not matter. Some prejudices will never give way to facts.
Other disingenuous commentators in a fit of magical thinking want to wish away the FNM because of where their sympathies and interests rest.

It is a like a theology of the absurd in which some people's syllabus of errors and dogmatic certitudes remain untouched by a certain quality of faith or reason.

o frontporchguardian@gmail.com
www.bahamapundit.com

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News Article

June 07, 2012
The Bahamas to bid for IAAF Relay Championships

The governing body for track and field in the country has less than five weeks to put together an official bid to host the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relay Championships.
This bid, which involves the Government of The Bahamas' support, will be brought before the council members of the IAAF during the London Olympic Games. The inaugural IAAF relay championships are set to be held in 2014 and 2015 at the newly built Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
President of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Mike Sands knows that it will be a challenge in making sure that an event of this magnitude is a success, so he wants to "dot all the 'i's and cross all the 't's". He said: "We just have to fine-tune some numbers to give them (IAAF) a level of satisfaction and to ensure that the numbers are not far out of the estimation that has already been presented."
Sands said that they will work very closely with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture as well as the Sports Authority and the Ministry of Finance. In fact, Prime Minister Perry Christie has made a personal commitment, and has pledged his support to the project.
"For a small country interested in sports and developing itself as a sporting power, there are always challenges for a country like The Bahamas, which now has the intent on maximizing the return that sports can give to its economy," said Prime Minister Christie. "It becomes a matter of tremendous focus for the country, where we have to dedicate resources on the basis that we expect to see a significant return from the point of view of athletes coming to our country to compete, and bringing people with them who will wish to watch the event. Being televised from here internationally to the world, and being able to create a view on the part of people outside, that this is a great place to come. You would have seen, therefore with, a commitment by our country to sports tourism. That is exactly what it entails, being able to host a major international event that will bring the world's best in. That will bring people in, athletes in, and will bring excitement to our own athletes. That will cause the young ones in our country to see this as a part of their aspirations, to be able to one day be like that."
According to the prime minister, the government is in the process of finding the best formula to have the economy benefit significantly from sports. He promised to give sports the additional focus needed across the board. Noting that The Bahamas is made up of numerous islands and cays, the prime minister views that as a challenge and would like to ensure that the 'best foot' is being put forth to a proposal which dedicates millions of dollars to a particular event, held particularly in New Providence.
Prime Minister Christie said: "The other islands out there, in the country, who are looking for development will know that the government has dedicated these resources for this particular event on the basis that it will be a significant return to the country as a result of it."
As a result he is asking for all parties to work together so the event can be successful. He is hoping that The Bahamas is viewed as an exciting destination where the athletes themselves will look forward to coming here, want to come back here and they in turn will compete harder to have this opportunity to come back the following year to The Bahamas. Prime Minister Christie said: "It is a win-win situation for The Bahamas."

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News Article

May 24, 2012
Bishop Gomez to the government: People are watching you

Although they were elected to office by a landslide victory, the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was reminded by Anglican Bishop Drexel Gomez that the Bahamian people are still in great need, and that it is the government's duty to bring relief to all the people.
The former head of the Anglican Diocese in The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos islands said at a recent service of thanksgiving for the new government at Zion Yamacraw Baptist Church, that much like Jesus was watched closely by the Pharisees throughout His ministry, the Bahamian people will watch the PLP, especially since their cry for a change has been expressed so boldly.
"This new administration should aim to remember that they are being watched by the Bahamian people to see how they govern the country," said Bishop Gomez. "They have a great responsibility and it is hoped that they live up to it. In the teaching of Jesus in Luke 14 and in Luke 10, a significant point is made that eternal life is that quality of life characterized by showing mercy to those in need regardless of who they are.
"Mercy only sees need and Jesus teaches that you are to respond to human need in a positive way, and I hope the administration takes this to heart. They are to respond to the people in this country who are crying out in a way that brings relief and creates a foundation for further peace and unity in the future."
Bishop Gomez told the congregation that the country has faced numerous problems repeatedly over the years, and that it is time for the government to step up to the plate and address the issues that really matter.
He said the ongoing violence and murders is stifling society and causing many people to live in fear day and night. He said that there should be an action plan that the government can use to assist other institutions who are trying to address this ongoing problem. While the Anglican bishop said he knows the resolution to the problem will not come overnight, he said the government should take measures to help the process along.
"It is also important for the issue of equality of opportunity to be addressed," he said. "The administration should aim to do more to make space for everyone in our society. The most prominent being employment. We are at an all-time high for unemployment and a large majority of this population are young people who sacrifice to qualify themselves and still cannot find work in their own homeland. This is not fair and we should look to turn such a situation around."
The bishop encouraged the government to also look into improving education by making opportunities balanced across the board for all children no matter where they live, what their ethnicity or their family's economic state. He also said he hoped that universal health care and housing issues in the country are addressed so that more less fortunate Bahamians can live a better quality life in their own country.
The bishop also challenged Prime Minister Perry Christie to set the bar higher and encourage accountability and ethics in administration by appointing a national commission for electoral reform. This will allow all institutions in the country to be represented and have a voice in the evolution of the government, and the development of the country. Establishing a code of ethics that those in government must abide by was also something he hoped the government would consider.
"If we do this we will be establishing that we have laws and standards in our country," he said. "I would hope that as we advance more, that such an idea would be utilized because we have to have ethics and our politicians need to be accountable. If we have no kind of standard for them to be held against then anything can go by, and as a developing nation we need to see the merit in such a thing."
Bishop Gomez encouraged the government to be transparent and reliable while in office, and to remember that the people should be a part of the process and not just spectators in their country. He said that if the government could be in constant communication with the people and let decision-making be an effort by all parties concerned, then much of the outcry and anger the people feel at the end of a seemingly failed administrative term can be lessened. At the end of the day, he hoped the government remembered that they were elected to serve the people and should be doing what is best for them and not for themselves.
"And to do all of this you need God. I hope most of all that all members of the government know that they cannot hope to guide the country in the right way without God in the formula. Remember to put your trust in God, be faithful and true to Him and He will guide you to do the works that will benefit the country the most."

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News Article

June 19, 2012
BPC: 46 of spill would impact Cuba

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.

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News Article

May 22, 2012
Promises and reality

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts revealed yesterday while on a talk show that the Christie administration has met a budget deficit of around $500 million. It was expected that the deficit would be around $314 million.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis confirmed the figure when he spoke to The Nassau Guardian yesterday. Davis blamed the Free National Movement (FNM) government's "mismanagement" and "abuse" of the public purse.
The FNM argued that it spent to keep the economy afloat during these tough economic times and that when it was in power it invested in infrastructure to prepare The Bahamas to take advantage of the economic recovery to come.
The new reality of the debt situation faced by the PLP administration will make closing the deficit even more of a priority than the party thought when it was on the campaign trail. This large deficit should also make the governing party and the citizenry aware that some of what was promised by the party my have to be delayed.
When reasonable political parties put together manifestos before elections they should do so based on the perceived economic conditions of the times. If elected, and the times remain as assumed, then the party should follow through on what was promised. However, when conditions are significantly worse than projected by the party, a reasonable group should go back to the table of consideration and determine how responsibly to carry out the party's agenda with fewer resources than expected.
It would be foolhardy and irresponsible for an administration to spend like it is in good times when it is not. Such behavior would make the country's fiscal situation worse.
Greece is in a depression because of the poor management of its affairs by successive governments. Other European countries are facing bankruptcy for the same reason. For these countries, they are at the beginning of a lost decade during which the quality of the lives of their peoples will be much worse than it was a decade before.
Davis added that the Christie administration will likely have to borrow a little over $500 million in the 2012/2013 fiscal year as a result of the previous administration's spending. We wonder if the full scope of the New Providence roadwork borrowing is factored into that $500 million figure. If not, it will increase.
The Bahamian economy has had a rough few years. In 2007 the unemployment rate was 8.7 percent. In 2008, the year of the financial crisis, the jobless rate rose to 14.2 percent. Unemployment was last measured at 15.9 percent.
The Bahamian people must realize that the government's primary responsibility now is to create an environment for investment and job creation, and to control government spending and manage our national debt situation. Politicians should be discouraged from wasteful spending.
We are now hearing dribs and drabs of information on the country's fiscal situation from various politicians. It will be interesting to listen to the minister of finance present the full situation in a few weeks during the budget communication. Bahamians should listen carefully and come to terms with what the new administration can reasonably do as our borrowing capacity lessens due to the significant amounts borrowed since 2008.

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News Article

May 26, 2011
No positive DNA ID in alleged rape

By MEGAN REYNOLDS

Tribune Staff Reporter

mreynolds@tribunemedia.net

A SENIOR police officer accused of raping a mentally-challenged woman and fathering her child has not been positively identified in DNA tests.

The family of the claimant, now 26, who has Down's Syndrome, said they do not have any faith in the tests and now want police to conduct an independent test with fresh blood samples from all three parties.

However, they were told they have to pay for the tests themselves and the high-ranking police officer accused of rape could not be forced to provide another blood sample.

Blood was taken from the child for testing days after he was born in December 2009, and the family wer ...

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News Article

June 07, 2012
IAAF representatives like what they see in The Bahamas

Inspection of the two track and field stadiums in New Providence, and touring the island to find the best spots and accommodations for international guests, were high on the agenda for officials representing the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), yesterday.
The fact-finding mission and path which IAAF Secretary General Essar Gabriel and IAAF Competitions Director Paul Hardy are on is needed and could confirm that The Bahamas is indeed ready to host the inaugural IAAF World Relay Championships. A courtesy call was made on Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday.
Gabriel, who spoke on behalf of IAAF President Lamine Diack, said: "We are at a historic moment. Together, we are looking forward to crossing that line, not only the starting line which is the phase that we are in, but the finishing line. The historical moment being joined to the World Athletic Series, which are World Championships - the series of all our world championships from juniors to the jewels which is the World Championships - and to add the world relay events. I think the world of sports in general will look at this with awe. We can look forward to an event that is going to stay there and be a legacy for all of the athletes of the world.
"The Bahamas is certainly a privileged place to host such an event. You have the commitment on behalf of our president, on behalf of our council, and you have a member here who sits on the council Pauline Davis-Thompson. You have a commitment to have a privileged relationship in looking to come together and indeed manage to cross that first line which is saying 'we are in and we are doing it together'."
The relays are set to be held in the years 2014 and 2015. The event is expected to attract the 'best-of-the-best' to the country. The announcement, that The Bahamas is working on hosting the events, comes at a perfect time as the international governing body celebrates 100 years in athletics.
Gabriel said the new relationship forged bodes well for the integration and good governance of the project. All the parties involved are of the opinion that The Bahamas is an ideal location. There is no doubt that there is a lot of work still needed to be done, and judging from the earlier parts of the tour and meetings on Wednesday, Gabriel feels that it will be good to allow the team in The Bahamas to present the bid by the end of the month or early July so it can be tabled at the London Olympic Games.
Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed that the hosting will elevate the athletes in The Bahamas. He has made a commitment to ensure that the project is a success.

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News Article

June 04, 2012
Demonstrating political maturity

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".

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News Article

May 29, 2012
Political debt and fundraising

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.

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