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News Article

November 19, 2010
Joint Mission of OAS/CARICOM in Haiti provides an update after more than three months of activity

The

Joint Electoral Observation Mission (JEOM) of the Organization of

American States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Haiti, led

by Ambassador Colin Granderson, is a long-term mission that has been

present on the ground in Haiti since August 3, 2010. The Mission is

currently composed of 68 observers who are deployed in each of the

10 departments and it intends to increase its field presence in the

coming days. The JEOM has observed the different phases of the

organization of the electoral process: the registration,

contestation and validation processes for presidential candidates;

the assignment of numbers for new political parties participating in

the presidential elections; the drawing of lots for the designation

of polling station members based on nominations made by the

political parties; the updating, preparation and publication of the

electoral list; the technical, administrative and logistical

preparations for election day; the unfolding of the two phases of

the electoral campaign; and the training of trainers for polling

station personnel...

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News Article

May 20, 2011
NPCA Pleased With Government's Prompt Response to Contractor's Concerns

Nassau, Bahamas - The
New Providence Contractors Association met with Government officials on
Wednesday as a first step in its mandate to represent and address the
needs of the majority of Bahamian workers within the construction
industry. The first meeting took place at The Ministry of Housing where
the industry's status and concerns from both parties were discussed. 

Minister
of Housing The Hon. A. Kenneth Russell expressed to NPCA officials the
commitment that he and his staff has to creating jobs for Bahamian
Contractors within the Ministry of Housing. Key areas of this commitment
by the Ministry lay within impending developments to take place by the
Government...

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News Article

June 19, 2012
Are we up to the challenge

During the election campaign both major parties committed to long-term national planning. Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham promoted Jubilee Bahamas, a 10-year national planning process leading to the 2023 independence jubilee. Given his record, such a planning exercise would have been conducted extending the plans and accomplishments of his former administrations.
As it did with a number of other policy matters, the PLP followed suit, adding a twist: It promised a 30-year plan. Notwithstanding this copycat, and that 30-year plans tend to make little sense in terms of realistic planning, it remains dubious that the incumbent government will, given its past, fulfil its pledge.
But long-term planning going forward is critical, and not just because such planning is perennially essential. We are, today, in the midst of some of the more dramatic structural changes facing the country post-independence.
These changes are varied and complex. They include globalization, urbanization, economic and political modernization, and the interrelated demands of energy security and a complex of environmental issues.
These meta-challenges are occurring amidst, and are part and parcel of a combination of a deep cyclical "financial crisis-based recession" and a variety of structural changes sweeping the globe.
The better news, if we can call it that, is that we may experience a series of rolling recessions lasting the remainder of this decade, and related structural challenges stretching into the future, all resulting in widespread economic and social dislocation. The bad news is that much of the world economy can falter into a depression.

Global context
This is the global context of which any national planning must take full measure. While many more Bahamians suspect that we are entering a new normal, constituting a daily struggle to make ends meet and persistent anxiety about the future, many may not realize the nature, scope and depth of the challenges we face.
We are not solely experiencing the typical cyclical recession of which Bahamians of a certain age remember, and which usually lasted for a relatively short period. The turnaround in some tourism indicators should not obscure our deep-seated challenges.
The structural changes with which we are faced are wide-scale. Some of them have been partially discussed and hinted at by political and financial leaders. But the broader scope of these challenges is not fully appreciated by many politicians, business people, academics or journalists.
In turn, these opinion leaders have failed to articulate anything approaching the breadth of our challenges, much less the fundamental changes to our way of life they will bring about.
So, even while an increasing number of Bahamians sense that we are entering a new world, they may not yet appreciate what responding to that new world will entail on numerous fronts. The unprecedented level of change will be staggering.
Communicating the reasons why and responding to such change will not be easy for the political class, especially those still pandering to the mindsets of yesteryear even as events outstrip the make-believe they seek to pass off as reality.
Take something like a value-added tax (VAT) which the Christie administration has discussed introducing. Such a tax seems imperative in light of our accession to the World Trade Organization and desperately-needed state revenues.
But how does a government introduce such a tax to a populace used to taxes hidden in plain sight but unaccustomed to a tax measure like VAT? How does one sell the need for such a tax change to a high consumption society, inclusive of an often brand-name and status-obsessed middle class that has an entitlement mentality when it comes to what is demanded of government?
Tax reform is only the beginning. There are other potentially wrenching reforms on the horizon if The Bahamas is not to fall behind - way behind, on various fronts.

Fundamental changes
Globalization, not the fact of, but the nature and imperatives of change across the continents will have far-reaching implications. Think of the fundamental changes in our financial services sector wrought by advanced economies, and the fight over the privatization of BTC. Now multiply these many fold, and one gets a sense of what is on the horizon.
Changes like global aging, the shift in China's growth model to greater domestic consumption, and fundamental socio-economic and political changes from the U.S., Europe and Latin America to Asia and the Pacific will pose opportunities and challenges to the way the nation and government conduct its business, and the business of business.
In subsequent columns the challenges of urbanization and the attendant issues of crime and socialization will again be explored. Political modernization concerns the reform and modernization of the role and functions of government, including the level of public sector employment, and the privatization and monetizing of public services.
Economic modernization concerns far-reaching technological changes and the development of human capital in areas such as education, training and innovation, as well as the sustainable provision of social goods such as healthcare.
One burning question is how much the state can afford in terms of social welfare, and who pays for it. The Christie administration will soon face this question as it has promised comprehensive National Health Insurance. The pressures on the government will be immense from insurance companies to healthcare providers to those who may foot the bill for NHI.
The administration also faces its gargantuan promise of doubling investment in national education. Finding the resources alone will be a monumental task. But as importantly, what is the PLP's vision of education reform?
Thus far, we have heard mostly platitudes and generalities. To truly reform public education will require considerable improvement in the quality of teaching. There is no route to improving student performance without overhauling the manner in which we hire and evaluate teachers inclusive of issues of tenure and testing.
If we fail to get the human capital equation right, especially in areas like education training and innovation, our other public investments will account only for so much in terms of productivity and competition. In the area of training, our efforts should be targeted, consistent and practical, not wild-eyed about what may be possible given various cultural and sociological realities.

Human capital
Also in terms of sociology, our great challenge in the area of human capital is building the capacity of scores of unemployed young people now facing formidable difficulties in terms of employment and the world of work. As critical, is the basic human development, education and training of young males, the source of both great economic potential and major crime.
And then there is the challenge of energy security amidst ever escalating energy costs which is vexing homeowners, businesses and the competitiveness of tourism and other industries.
The upcoming Rio+20 Summit, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, will again highlight the complexity of global environmental challenges including that of climate change.
At home, from ocean acidification to rising sea levels to biodiversity, we are faced with environmental challenges that are more than structural. They are elemental to our survival. In the question of drilling for oil in The Bahamas, the issues of environment and profit collide.
While we are all faced with these challenges, the ability of our political and business leaders to understand, navigate and communicate the new world and the new Bahamas we are facing will be pivotal.
When China shifted towards capitalism and Singapore transformed itself into an economic powerhouse, it was the collective insight and dynamism of its political, business and academic elites who made these countries cutting-edge economies. Though a smaller country we are faced with the same imperative. Are we, and our elites, up to the challenge?

ofrontporchguardian@gmail.com www.bahamapundit.com

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News Article

June 13, 2012
McCartney wants law to govern election spending

Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney yesterday called on the government to bring a bill to Parliament that would govern the use of money in elections.
McCartney spoke in the context of the multiple allegations that have been tossed back and forth by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) over vote buying.
Most recently, Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell reported that he witnessed FNM operatives handing out envelopes containing $250 in the Centreville constituency several days before the May 7 general election.
"Commissioner of Police (Ellison) Greenslade ought to ensure that examples be made so that we can now start getting the electorate cognizant of consequences of accepting payments for votes," McCartney said.
"Your vote is significant. It should not be prostituted away. Many persons around the world do not have that right, but for some in The Bahamas it would seem that for a few pieces of silver the integrity of the vote can be compromised. I say prosecute."
McCartney noted that allegations of vote buying are nothing new in Bahamian elections.
"I think we deserve better because a party can become a government not because [it is] the best for the country, but because [it] had the money to give out at the right time as a voter told me a few weeks ago.
"That is a shame. We, as a people deserve better and must move beyond this type of scenario occurring in the future."
McCartney said there could be undue influence on the political system by unregulated donations from private sources, foreign investors and/or large companies.
"When parties receive secret donations to get elected, the question of returning the favor must inevitably be in their minds on taking office," he said. "Consequently, the interests of those who are less fortunate is not taken into account.
"Indeed, the process of contributions to political parties should be more transparent and the amount of monies parties are allowed to spend ought to be determined. Disclosure of donors should be made mandatory and penalties ought to be enforced should parties not comply."
This issue of campaign finances has been discussed on and off on the national scene for years.
In 2006, former Attorney General Paul Adderley said The Bahamas had been "severely influenced" by money in politics for more than 100 years, and it was time somebody did something about it.
"We're trying to do something about the influence that rich men can have or try to have over politicians. Don't let us fool around with this one in terms of what we're trying to do," said Adderley, who at the time headed the Christie-appointed Constitutional Review Commission.
Adderley's commission lost its life under the Ingraham administration, but had recommended that Parliament prescribe controls and limits over donations to political parties, candidates and political campaign expenditure to ensure transparency and accountability in local and national elections.
The need to reform campaign finances is something that officials from both major political parties seem to agree on.
In 2006, former FNM leader and Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest, said, "I believe we ought to begin steps to move toward some sort of campaign finance reform. I think there ought to be some transparency and accountability with respect to how political parties receive funding."
While former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham acknowledged the incredible expenses associated with elections in The Bahamas, money in politics was not an issue he addressed through legislation.
Prime Minister Perry Christie has previously said he supports campaign finance reform.

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Event
Tammy Pescatelli Stand Up Comedy Show
Tammy Pescatelli Stand Up Comedy Show

Friday 5th October 2012  9:30 PM

FRIDAY OCT. 5 TAMMY PESCATELLI 9:30 PM | ATLANTIS THEATRE All-star comedian, Tammy Pescatelli brings her quick-witted humor to Atlantis! A regular fixture on “Comedy Central” and winner of The 2010 Stand-Up Showdown, Pescatelli’s uproarious performance will have her audience begging for more. Tickets: from $35 Help raise money for breast cancer initiatives in the Bahamas. Come out to support a great cause! Pink it in Paradise is a year long program that will help raise money for breast cancer initiatives in The Bahamas. The official launch weekend will feature two fabulous comediennes and a Zumbathon. All funds raised will go to Bahamian Based breast cancer initiatives. Its a great cause at a great price! Natasha Leggero's bio reads like this: For those of you who don't know, Natasha is a glamorous comedian who used to answer phones in a brothel. She was born to a used car dealer and a belly dancer. She sassed her way out of her parents' house and into foster care where she drove a bus to pay for her French kissing lessons. And she then traveled east where she married her first wife, Lisa. Her comedic bio goes on to say that her life changed when a tourist showed her a clip from the "Maury Povich" show and she realized she could get rich by making fun of poor people. Leggero wandered to Hollywood where she became a comedian. And she is now available for parties. If that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what will. But Leggero and fellow comedian Tammy Pescatelli will be bringing their brand of comedy to Atlantis this weekend. And Pescatelli is apparently the kind of woman you wish was your sister or your best friend because like a good sister, it's said she's always ready with a good joke or lively quip, having grown up in a large Italian household. Pescatelli will take to the stage tonight in the Atlantis Theatre, at 9:30 p.m. Leggero takes to the stage on Saturday night.


News Article

June 07, 2012
Convicted murderer gets new trial

A man who pleaded guilty to murder will get a new trial because prosecutors breached the terms of his plea agreement, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Sherman Rhodriquez in 2010 admitted to stabbing his neighbor Dale Williams in a drug-crazed frenzy on December 7, 2004.
During plea negotiations, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of 20 years.
Attorney Jerone Roberts argued that Rhodriquez pleaded guilty on the understanding that he would receive the agreed sentence. Roberts said the agreement was rendered null and void when the prosecution failed to specify the sentence on which both parties had agreed. Instead, Rhodriquez was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
In contrast Garvin Gaskin, the deputy director of public prosecutions, submitted that the agreement was still valid.
In a judgment delivered Wednesday, Justice of Appeal Stanley John said "fairness is crucial to the administration of justice. Accuracy of what is being recommended plays a pivotal role in ensuring fairness to the accused person who has entered into a plea agreement."

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News Article

June 02, 2011
Global Forum: Bahamas has record-keeping deficiences

The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes reported on several significant offshore and traditional 'on-shore' jurisdictions yesterday, providing Bahamian professionals a little more insight into how to tackle its own identified record-keeping shortcoming.
Nine peer review reports were released yesterday coming out of the Global Forum Meeting held in Bermuda from May 31- 1 June 2011.  Like The Bahamas, several jurisdictions will have to redress aspects of their record keeping standards, one of the key areas identified as common deficiencies in the nine reports.
"The most common deficiencies identified in the reports related to the availability of information on persons that are represented by nominees and on foreign companies; incomplete accounting information for some forms of limited liability companies and partnerships; and slow responses by requested countries," said a Global Forum press release yesterday.
An initiative of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Global Forum yesterday released the peer reviews for France, the United States, Switzerland, Italy, New Zealand, Hungary, the Isle of Man, Philippines and Singapore.
In September 2010, record keeping requirements were identified as an area for improvement in the Cayman peer review, with similar language to that used in describing the deficiencies recognized for The Bahamas.  News coming out of the Bermuda meeting indicates Cayman may have found a suitable solution to its record-keeping regulations.
"The majority of the jurisdictions previously reviewed say they have changed their domestic legislation following Global Forum recommendations...  The Cayman Islands has ensured that offshore entities now have to keep appropriate accounts," according to the OECD yesterday.
Bermuda's Premier Paula Cox, at the Global Forum news conference to announce some of the outcomes of the meeting, addressed the matter of whether or not jurisdictions with no income tax regime were struggling to meet the record-keeping provision more than income tax-based jurisdictions.
"We don't have income tax and it hasn't been seen that that has been a reason why we would struggle with the whole regime of exchange of information," Cox said.  "There is a competent authority.  You'll know that we have had a long-standing tax convention with the US going back to 1986, and really when jurisdictions or authorities request information we have a documented procedure and we also have a means of giving a turnaround time which is seen as being effective.
"The income tax issue from our perspective in how you monitor and deal with exchange of information hasn't been an impediment."
Bermuda was considered to have met the requirements for record keeping in its September 30th 2010 peer review, though that report noted that aspects of the legal implementation needed improvement.  It was recommended that Bermuda "introduce consistent, binding requirements on all relevant entities and arrangements and maintain reliable accounting records including underlying documentation for a minimum of five years."
In its just-released peer review, the Isle of Man was identified as needing to improve its accounting records standards for limited partnerships, the Forum recommending the maintenance of reliable accounting records including underlying documentation for at least five years.  It also received a recommendation to clarify its disclosure of information to other enforcement agencies with its treaty partners.
Many in the industry anticipated that the United States would run into some challenges over the laws and regulations governing limited liability companies (LLCs) in a number of its states.  The US' peer review did raise matters in respect to the ownership and identity information for single member LLCs and the availability of accounting information for single member LLCs -- where the LLC's business did not require it to file tax returns in the US.  Nevertheless, the Forum marked these areas as meeting the standard, saying "The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement."
The forum recommended that the US ensure accounting records, including underlying documentation, are available for all LLCs.
France received a clean bill of health for all of the categories reviewed under Phase 1.  Like the United States, France and the Isle of Man underwent their phase 1 and 2 peer reviews simultaneously.  The phase 1 review looks at the legal and regulatory framework in a jurisdiction, whereas phase 2 looks at the implementation of those laws and regulations.
Recommendations were made to both jurisdictions to improve systems under which the competent authority provides status updates to parties in its network of information sharing agreements.
Switzerland was recognized for the significant change to its approach to information exchange for tax purposes over the last two years, but some deficiencies were identified.
"It has made rapid progress to implement its commitment to the internationally agreed standard.  However, the report notes that in a few areas it still falls short of the standard: Bearer savings books are being phased out but still exist.  In addition, only a limited number of Switzerland's exchange of information agreements meets the standard," according to the OECD.

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News Article

June 14, 2012
The tragedy of the commoners

The terminology "commoners" is often construed to refer to a wide ranging social division of regular people who are members of neither the perceived noble or religious classes. It is no news, therefore, that in any society the so-called commoners comprise the majority of the electorate and countries' populations. Logic leads us to a conclusion therefore that the power rests with the commoners in any society and The Bahamas is not an exception.
On May 7, 2012, the Bahamian people for the eleventh time since 1967 went to the polls and voted into power the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and ousted the governing Free National Movement (FNM). This victory represents the eighth of its kind for the PLP since 1967 which governed for 25 consecutive years under the late Sir Lynden O. Pindling until its first defeat by the FNM in the 1992 general election. This is compared to the FNM's three terms of governance and 15 non-consecutive years under the leadership of Hubert A. Ingraham.
The commoners of The Bahamas from year to year have made these decisions presumably based on their convictions and political persuasions to determine the party they wish to govern the country. Further, it is interesting to note that recent elections evidence a divided electorate who has failed to give administrations a clear majority as it relates to the popular vote.

The class divide
The fact that incumbent governments have been voted out of office in the last three general elections appears to be a testament that within a democracy, true power rests with the people - the commoners. It is noteworthy to state that the term democracy comes from the Greek word "demokratia" which means rule of the people. In spite of this well-documented and proven power of the people, a school of thought suggests that democracy is just an illusion which sells an idea to the masses that they have the power to elect individuals of their choice to high office. The proponents of this school argue that the undeniable truth is that power ultimately rests in the hands of a small elite group.
The reality within the context of The Bahamas is that local aristocracies, oligarchies and political dynasties abound regardless of which political party is in power. As can be expected, the interests and sometimes greed of a small and select few outweigh the interests of the common man. This is indeed the tragedy of the Bahamian commoners who supposedly have the power and should control their destinies. Official oppositions from one political cycle to another, it seems, only fight against the government of the day and most of such government's policies not necessarily because they have the interest of the people at heart, but primarily because power has slipped away from them even if only for a fleeting moment. Their motivation seems to be driven by a reduced status in society either socially, professionally or politically and a deflated ego.
The dilemma of the common man within the Bahamian democratic framework is that the major political parties have been successful in creating an effective divide in Bahamian politics either through oppression or manipulation. A certain class of Bahamians are oppressed either because of political persuasion or social and economic background. Meanwhile, there are those who are manipulated to suit the needs of the elite ruling class. The end result is that the masses remain divided and fight at the lower end to support their respective parties at any cost while the select few wine, dine and enrich themselves. In the midst of the division, the commoners' lives are not necessarily improved by the governments and politicians they have hired. The elite who "call the shots" always maintain their drive, focus and unity to maintain power both politically and economically while the victims left holding the bag almost always are the masses.
It is rather unfortunate that a select few have convinced themselves that the governing class of The Bahamas is a "members only" club with entry requirements not based solely on merit, qualification and patriotism. The small elite have resorted to treating The Bahamas like a private company - they sit as the directors and preference shareholders while the masses who are the common shareholders sit back and accept their dictates. As a result, governance is reserved for the chosen few who are considered worthy, thereby perpetuating the prosperity and expansion of established political dynasties and special interest groups. In order to achieve this objective, they seek to manipulate the electorate by keeping voters uninformed about many political and economic issues to ensure that emotionalism and sensationalism determine the outcome of elections.

The commoners must demand what is theirs
Last week the Bahamian people mourned the death of the late William Cartwright. Cartwright was one of the three founding members of the PLP along with the late Cyril Stevenson and the late Sir Henry Taylor. The party, which is the oldest party on Bahamian record, was formed in 1953 by the gentlemen during a time when it was unpopular to stand up against the ruling oligarchy. The overall platform of the PLP was to erase social, economic and racial inequality for all Bahamians regardless of their class or status. Today, both the PLP and the FNM have members who are either founding members of those respective parties or who are second or third generation descendants of founding members and those who fought in favor of the PLP's founding philosophy. Unfortunately, it is sad to note that both these parties have become guilty of the same evil that they fought against decades ago to bring so-called liberation to the masses.
The power that the masses possess in choosing the people that govern them ultimately vests power in the government. The power vested in the government and leaders it seems fair should then be exercised for the benefit and betterment of the commoners. However, it is sad that questions remain as to the identity and location of the champions of the commoners today. The average Bahamian who is classed among commoners has been taught by the actions of successive governments not to aspire for higher office or leadership within his/her own country. Appointments are made for the most part along party lines and from the elite as opposed to choosing from the pool of talented, intelligent and skilful Bahamians across the archipelago.
The time has come for the commoners to fully appreciate the extent of the power they possess. After all the common shareholders can vote in, vote out or re-elect individuals to the board to govern the affairs of what is deemed "Bahamas Ltd". The commoners need not accept this tragedy that has been assigned to them and must flip the script demanding what is rightfully theirs as owners of our Bahamaland.

o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed at commentary@komolafelaw.com.

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News Article

June 14, 2012
Police staff association reaches breaking point on outstanding balance

Bahamas Supermarkets Limited (BSL), the former parent company of the City Market supermarket chain, is facing legal action yet again, Guardian Business can confirm.
Devard Francis, the attorney representing the Royal Bahamas Police Staff Association (RBPSA), confirmed yesterday that his firm LaRoda, Francis and Co. has filed a default judgment against BSL for failure to pay the rest of the funds owed to the RBPSA and is now waiting to secure a court date.
He shared with Guardian Business that RBPSA members have been patiently waiting for the owed monies, and have now reached their breaking point.
The RBPSA alleged earlier this year that BSL had an outstanding balance of more than $80,000 for unpaid services rendered by association members last year. A writ was then filed against BSL in the Supreme Court, claiming the company owes officers $81,321.50.
"Sometime in 2011, the plaintiff (RBPSA) and defendant (BSL) entered into a written agreement whereby the defendant hired the services of the plaintiff to secure its five New Providence store locations and three Grand Bahama locations during its hours of operation," the writ stated.
Devard Francis subsequently told Guardian Business that a deal had been brokered and therefore the lawsuit against BSL was dropped.
At that time, Francis revealed to Guardian Business that an amicable settlement was made between the two parties, though he refused to disclose the conditions.
He further shared that full payment would be given to the association first, and then distributed to the officers.
Sgt. Darrell Weir, RBPSA's executive chairman, said to Guardian Business yesterday the association is becoming increasingly frustrated, as the services were rendered nearly one year ago.
Weir disclosed that BSL has an outstanding balance of more than $35,000.
"The officers are constantly complaining that they have not received their monies as yet. We're going into almost a year since the service has been rendered. One lump sum has been made, but none since then," he noted.
"The officers need their money because they rendered a service. The members of the police staff association want their money. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work."
BSL President Mark Finlayson had allegedly promised the outstanding balance would be paid in full last month.
"We have been trying to negotiate payments and have been working feverishly towards it but to date, we have only received a partial payment of that particular sum. They have reached their breaking point, being more than patient, as the sum is still outstanding for officers in Nassau and Freeport," according to Francis.
"Our firm intends to secure a date with the court to assess damages as we have already filed a default judgment."
The attorney shared with Guardian Business that he expects a court date to be given within the next two weeks.

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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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