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News Article
Further LPIA industrial action 'catastrophic'

Canceled flights, thousands of dollars in lost revenue and frustrated travelers could be the outlook for this upcoming Easter holiday weekend if executives of Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union (BATCU) and the government do not come to an agreement on working conditions.
Captain Randy Butler, CEO at SkyBahamas, confirmed to Guardian Business that if airport workers take industrial action this weekend, his airline would lose a significant amount of money.
"If they tell us in advance then we may have to cancel those flights and all of those flights are full and going into the U.S. So I would lose a significant amount of money," according to Butler.
"This weekend, we lost thousands of dollars because you are talking about fuel, overtime and all of these things. We're talking about a lot of good will that we're losing with our customers because they for the most part do not understand or tend to appreciate what is going on with the air traffic controllers, because they don't see a reason for this happening."
He noted that SkyBahamas lost thousands of dollars just last weekend alone after air traffic controllers took industrial action and caused significant flight delays, something Butler is strongly advising against.
"It was not a good weekend for us, especially on Saturday. While we understand and sympathize with the Air Traffic Controllers, we ask them to find alternative means of trying to negotiate with the government," Butler said.
"If they take industrial action this weekend, it's going to be catastrophic because we are just hanging by threads. At this point, any kind of industrial action would put us in a bad position."
Captain Butler revealed to Guardian Business that he met with the union's president Roscoe Perpall and encouraged both parties to come to the table and talk before significant damage is done to the country's aviation industry.
He further noted that the aviation industry is going to need some attention, if it is going to grow.
"If we say we are going to build a bridge to the Family Islands, then we need to use these carriers to do it and even spending the money to give credit for airline seats on the companion fly free. On a big weekend like this, they (fellow air carriers) will cancel the flights if they know ahead of time," he added.
BATCU President Roscoe Perpall indicated that industrial action is still on the table.
"Right now, if the government refuses to meet with us, discuss and try to resolve the outstanding issue, we would have no other recourse than to demonstrate our displeasure," he shared.
He noted that those issues relate to an industrial agreement that expired in 2008, outstanding promotions and senior officers' salaries.
Both parties are expected to meet sometime this week.

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News Article
Perry Christie: FNM running scared

Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)Leader Perry Christie contended last night that if Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham truly believed the Free National Movement (FNM) is polling ahead of the PLP, he would already have announced the date of the next general election.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Ingraham dismissed the conclusion made byThe Nassau Guardianbased on a scientific poll that the two major parties are in a statistical dead heat. Ingraham instead insisted that the FNM is ahead.

"Now Hubert Ingraham says he's ahead," Christie said. "He also reminds us every night that he's the one with the bell. Well, if he really thought he was ahead, he would have rung that bell a long time ago."

Christie told a crowd of supporters at R.M. Bailey Park who gathered to celebrate the opening of the party's Marathon constituency office,"If he (Ingraham) really thought he was ahead, he wouldn't be carrying on the way he is."

Christie also characterized Ingraham's move to abruptly suspend the House of Assembly until May 22 on Wednesday, as "nasty and cruel".

The House will automatically dissolve on May 23, if Ingraham does not cause it to be dissolved before then.

The prime minister said the House will not meet again before the next election. The move denied MPs who will not run again a chance to say farewell from the floor of the lower chamber.

"My Lord, just look at that wicked, nasty, low-down dirty thing he did to Mother Pratt and Ken Russell and all the other retiring MPs,"Christie said."He wouldn't even allow a few minutes to simply say their'thanks yous'and goodbyes. No class. No decency. How nasty and cruel. And you know why?Because he's scared red and scaredâEUR¦we have him on the run, PLPs. And we're going to run him right out of office."

Christie added: "Their days are numbered. And Ingraham knows it. That's why he's carrying on so badly. That's also why, he's making crazy, irrational promises. That's why he's springing out all these last-minute contracts all across the country. The man looks hell-bent on bankrupting the Treasury in a desperate bid to win a few extra votes."

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News Article
It is now voting time

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced yesterday at his party's beach event that he will inform the country today of the election date.
Ingraham said he will first meet with his Cabinet this morning and a statement will be made by 1 p.m. regarding the next election. The prime minister also said he will make a national address at 8 p.m. about his party's term in office and the upcoming election.
"The real bell will ring tomorrow," Ingraham told thousands of Free National Movement (FNM) supporters yesterday at Montagu Beach.
Ingraham said he hopes voters will be satisfied with the performance of his party this term. The FNM led the country through the financial crisis of 2008, which led to the worst recession since the Great Depression. The effects of that recession are still being felt in The Bahamas. The country's unemployment rate remains above 15 percent.
"We did the best we could in very difficult circumstances and we believe that the population will accept that we did as much as was possible," Ingraham said.
In this election the FNM's main challenger is the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). Its leader last night at his party's beach event told PLPs not to "slacken up" but to continue to push hard for a victory after Ingraham calls the next general election.
"For us to win, we must demonstrate that we are prepared to work and to work hard," said Christie at the Western Esplanade near Arawak Cay.
Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel said recently the number of registered voters has exceeded 170,000 - the largest voter register in Bahamian history.
In the weeks to come in the official campaign, Ingraham and Christie will push with all they have left to be declared winner on Election Day. The veteran leaders are likely in their last election campaign and neither wants to retire a loser.
Branville McCartney and his Democratic National Alliance (DNA) will do all they can to play spoiler. The DNA is seeking to create a third way in a country that has essentially only welcomed two parties at a time in its independent history.
What Bahamians must remember in the weeks to come is that this is the people's time. After five years of evaluating the government and the opposition, it is time to choose. No party has the right to be in power. They must earn our trust. No leader has the right to lead. He must prove he is good enough to be in charge and make tough decisions in tough times. The country needs strong decisive leadership to help resolve many of the problems that make The Bahamas dysfunctional at this time.
For those who did not get to register and who will not get to vote, it is clear that you never really wanted to. The politicians, public officials, the media and everybody else, urged you to register. Yet, you did not. The ability to vote is a privilege many fight and die for.
Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma has spent much of her life in jail fighting for democracy in her country. Yet we have people here who will not even register to vote. This is sad.
We must take seriously our democratic responsibilities and participate. For those who are registered, read a little more these next few weeks; have debates with friends and family; listen to the politicians. You must be the judge in this contest. Be informed so you can make an informed decision.

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News Article
More than 170,000 registered to vote

More than 170,000 Bahamians have registered to vote, exceeding the projected figure, Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel revealed yesterday.
Bethel told The Nassau Guardian more than 100 people register on a daily basis in New Providence.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts said the numbers indicate that people are anxious to vote.
"The PLP urges the prime minister to call elections," he said.
"Ingraham has five years and he is not to go a minute over that... The government has not performed."
Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Chairman Mark Humes came to a similar conclusion.
"I agree that people are tired of the government," he said.
However, he added that "they are also tired of the opposition".
"What you see is a lot of people who wouldn't ordinarily have voted are coming forward," Humes said.
"The numbers are a clear indication that Bahamians are going to do something that neither the PLP nor the FNM parties is expecting.
"People now have a choice. What you see is new voters coming out to get rid of both of those parties. In 2007 the numbers weren't this high. This new group is a manifestation of what is to come."
Asked his thoughts on the registration number, Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Carl Bethel declined to comment.
But Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham recently said it is clear that the FNM has more support than the opposition.
Last week, Ingraham said he intends to announce the election date on or before May 2.
Bethel, the parliamentary commissioner, said he is not surprised that his projection has been exceeded.
Just under 12,000 people have registered to vote in the last month.
In 2007, just over 150,000 people had registered for that election.

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News Article
The OAS-CARICOM Joint Mission makes a new appeal for calm

Election Observation Mission deplores the significant increase in pre-election
violence which has tarnished the last days of the election campaign.

The Mission reminds
the presidential candidates, political parties and political platforms
which have signed the Code of Conduct for the Elections that they committed

inter alia, to promote an atmosphere of tolerance
during the election campaign as well as to renounce the use of weapons,
physical or verbal aggression, and to respect the right of rival parties
and their supporters to meet and to campaign without disruption throughout
the country...

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News Article
The last battle

Dear Editor,

The upcoming general election reminds me of the final showdown in C.S. Lewis' "The Last Battle" when Aslan assembles together the millions of creatures of Narnia for judgment after Father Time finally awoke from his sleep. What began in "The Magician's Nephew" finally ends in "The Last Battle". The creatures which were rejected by Aslan disappeared into the huge black shadow and were never seen again. The Bahamian electorate will have an opportunity to send to the political grave one of the leaders of the two major political parties. This election will determine this.
The announcement that the 2012 general election would be held on May 7 is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated news in recent times. Provost Marshal Ellison Greenslade announced on Tuesday, April 10 that the House of Assembly was dissolved and that Parliament will reconvene on May 23. Now that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and the governor general have dissolved the House and have set the election date for May 7, this means that the election will be held 27 days after its dissolution.
The prime minister is clearly within the boundary of the constitution. According to the constitution, had Ingraham allowed the House to automatically dissolve on May 22, he would have had 90 days in which to call an election. Ingraham has chosen not to take advantage of this extra time period. However, analysts have been fairly accurate in predicting that the prime minister would name the election date immediately after the Easter holidays.
The 38 candidates of the Free National Movement (FNM), the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) and the official opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have sufficient time to get their messages across to the voters of their respective constituencies. Supporters of both opposition parties have been for months now agitating Ingraham to name the election date. Well, now they have gotten their wish.
This election will be the most interesting in the history of the post-majority rule Bahamas, because two of the most interesting politicians will be going at it for the final time in their stellar political careers. Opposition Leader Perry Christie will be facing his former Cabinet and party colleague Ingraham for only the second time as party leader. Both men vied for the prime ministership in 2007. Interestingly, this was the first time Christie had faced off against his former law partner. Ingraham had to contend with the legendary Sir Lynden O. Pindling in 1992 and in 1997. The Delivery Boy, as Sir Lynden called him in 1992, is the only politician in this country that can boast of defeating the Father of the Nation in an election. Neither Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield or Sir Kendal Isaacs were able to do it; not even in a quarter of a century when Pindling ruled The Bahamas. When Christie defeated the FNM in 2002, Tommy Turnquest was the leader-elect of the then governing party heading into that year's electoral contest. There are many who are of the view that the PLP only won that election because Ingraham had taken a backseat to Turnquest and Dion Foulkes, the deputy leader-elect. Perhaps they are right.
Both men (Ingraham and Christie) were proteges of Sir Lynden. In fact both men entered Parliament the same year in 1977. I believe Christie served in the Senate for two years before he was elected representative for Centreville. Interestingly, Ingraham and Christie were fired from the Cabinet in 1984 after speaking out against the alleged corruption within the Pindling regime. In 1987, both ran as independent candidates in their respective constituencies and won. Ingraham was eventually expelled from the PLP. Christie, on the other hand, returned to the proverbial fold of the then governing party in 1990 and was appointed to a Cabinet post by Pindling. Ingraham joined the FNM in April of 1990 and became its leader soon after the death of Sir Cecil.
After leading the then official opposition FNM to a by-election victory in Marco City the same year after becoming its leader, Ingraham led the party to an impressive victory in the 1992 general election. As I mentioned already, Ingraham led the governing party to another election victory in 1997. After another crushing defeat at the hands of his erstwhile political son, Sir Lynden retired from frontline politics. Christie became the new leader of the PLP. That was a post Sir Lynden had held since 1956, after PLP Chairman and de facto Leader Sir Henry Taylor was defeated in that year's electoral contest. Ingraham will attempt to get his fourth non-consecutive term in high office; Christie his second. In any event, it should be their last election; their last political battle.
On May 7, thousands of Bahamians will go to the polls to elect the party they feel is best suited to manage the affairs of this country for the next five years. Will they choose Ingraham and his slate of candidates, or will they choose Christie and his slate of candidates? To be sure, Ingraham has done the best he could despite the Great Recession. In my opinion, no other leader could have fared any better. I believe Ingraham has done a decent job at keeping the country from totally collapsing. He should be given credit for that. What's more, I believe he should be given another term in high office.
However, Christie and his candidates have alleged that the economy has been grossly mismanaged by the prime minister. Will the swing voters buy this argument? The advent of cable TV and the Internet to New Providence and to several Family Islands have exposed Bahamians to the world. They can now watch what is happening on Wall Street and monitor the world economy on Bloomberg TV, CNN, BBC and MSNBC. They are not parochial and myopic as former generations of Bahamians were who lived in the Dark Ages. Informed Bahamians know that the situation in the U.S. has caused our economy to plunge, not the Ingraham administration. To argue that Ingraham has caused the recession would be an insult to the intelligence of these enlightened Bahamians.
In the final analysis, the political fate of both Ingraham and Christie is now in the hands of the Bahamian electorate. Like Aslan who made the decision on who he wanted to keep around in "The Last Battle", Bahamians will make a determination on which political leader they will want to keep around. It is widely speculated that the defeated leader will make his exit from the political stage immediately after the election. May 7 couldn't come soon enough.

- Kevin Evans

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News Article
PLP sports interest is an encouraging sign

Over the years, I've been perhaps the staunchest critic of local politicians because of their seemingly nonchalant approach to the national sports program. In this space, the cry has gone out often for the national sports program to be elevated into the top budget allocations.
Something interesting and, quite frankly, unexpected happened the other day. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) made the decision to be the major sponsor to bring the performances of our track and field athletes home via radio and television, live, from the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda.
It was an innovative undertaking and a truly pleasant and well-received gesture. This is the height of the political campaign season as the official opposition PLP, the governing Free National Movement (FNM), the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) and independents posture their positions.
It could be a great political ploy by the PLP.
Only the opposition leader, Perry Christie, and the rest of the PLP brass can ever speak honestly about that aspect.
What's the bottom line here though?
The truth be told, this sports interest of the PLP is an encouraging sign. It makes one begin to believe that finally the politicians seem to be getting the message.
The PLP joined forces with JCN Channel 14 and Sports Radio 103.5 FM to take Bahamian television watchers and radio listeners close up to the competition in Bermuda.
It was enjoyable.
Hopefully this is a trend that will continue in the future. The political entities focus on many national issues. Thus far, particularly during this campaign spell, they had ignored sports. A political party taking the initiative to boost the national sports picture gives hope that central administrations will take heed.
The political parties spend huge amounts of dollars in attempts to get their messages out to the electorate. The electorate includes a large percentage of voters who are based within the country's sports fraternity. Helping sports will always be a plus.
I've had the occasion to lambast Christie and his party when in governance for not making good on the grand sports infrastructure promise for the Family Islands. It is only fair to give credit when it is due.
Certainly, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), parents and guardians of the 2012 CARIFTA team, the athletes themselves, their supporters and Bahamians in general had a high level of appreciation to be able to see sons and daughters of the soil representing the country.
It's one of those feel-good stories that politicians are rarely deservedly associated with.
This time, though, there ought to be nods of appreciation to the PLP.
It's beyond politics. It's more so satisfaction that politicians have stepped up to the plate to financially aid sports in a special way.
Let's see if the future brings continuity.

o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at

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News Article
Easter Weekend Safety Tips for Swimmers, Boaters and Drivers

Nassau, Bahamas - A
message from The Royal Bahamas Police Force - "Working together for a
safer Bahamas"in light of Easter Weekend:

The Easter Monday Holiday for many residents is a day for family activities which

include picnics at the beach, parties, sailing or cruising around the island and visiting family and friends.

would like to encourage residents that are planning activities at the
beach or at other public areas to be extremely vigilant. Pay close
attention to your surroundings and be alert to suspicious people,
activities and vehicles.

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News Article
City Market: Super Value paying enough to cover liabilities

Super Value's offer to purchase the struggling five-store City Market chain is still the best deal, despite no official decision being made, according to Bahamas Supermarkets Limited (BSL) President Mark Finlayson.
Last week, Finlayson and Super Value owner Rupert Roberts confirmed that Super Value was seriously eyeing purchasing the five-store City Market chain.
During an interview yesterday, Finlayson told Guardian Business that there are other parties interested in purchasing the struggling food store chain, but admits that Super Value is the leading contender, though he remained tight-lipped about when a deal will be finalized.
Finlayson said the main reason he is favoring Super Value is because of the plan in place for the hundreds of City Market employees.
"There are others who are interested in purchasing the City Market food store chain, but the problem I have is that they are not willing to work with the employees the way that Mr. Roberts is willing to do. That's what makes his deal better than anyone else's," according to Finlayson.
The BSL chief pointed out that he has been in serious talks with Super Value's owner for just under two weeks.
"Mr. Roberts is a serious man and he is working diligently to get this deal done. We don't hope to recover anything from him. He is putting up enough money to pay the expenses," he added.
"At the end of the day, the employees will have a secure future with a very strong company and with that, I will feel like I have accomplished something. "
At this point, Finlayson said his focus is to sell off the store's assets as soon as possible and save jobs.
"We have tried our best but we have been unable to fix it (City Market). It has not succeeded. If the stores had succeeded, then my family and I would have benefitted from it but unfortunately we didn't."
In an interview with Guardian Business several months ago, Finlayson said the company was losing money, but he said the Finlayson family -- which acquired the company in late 2010 -- was determined to turn things around.

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