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News Article
Who Will Be the Real Opposition to the New Bahamian Government
Who Will Be the Real Opposition to the New Bahamian Government?

Who will be the effective opposition to the PLP in government and in the next Elections is an interesting proposition. The primary opposing political force must have as clear and decisive a direction as the governing PLP party. It is apparent that the FNM with its nine sitting members of Parliament will be the official opposition, but is there a role for the DNA going forward?

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News Article
Major sanctions for VAT evasion

The new value-added tax (VAT) regime proposed by the government would allow the state to impose widespread penalties on those who fail to comply with the new act and its regulations, including heavy fines, shutting businesses down, publicly naming and shaming, seizure of goods and auctioning off of assets and even jail time.
The new regime would also allow the Central Revenue Agency (CRA), which the government is setting up to regulate and collect VAT, to demand details of assets from banking institutions, garnish money owed to registrants by others and restrict access to travel for those who owe outstanding taxes.
The draft Value Added Tax Bill 2013 and Value Added Tax Regulations 2013 obtained by The Nassau Guardian outline dozens of instances that a VAT officer or the VAT commissioner might view as offensive to the act. The nature of these offenses would fall under the categories of minor, serious or very serious.
Individuals and companies are subject to fines by the CRA. However, the fines for companies in the draft legislation are much more serious.
For a minor infraction, an individual would be fined $12,500.
A minor infraction by a company would carry a fine of $25,000.
A serious infraction by an individual would carry a fine of $25,000.
A company would pay a fine of $75,000 for a serious infraction.
A very serious infraction would carry a penalty of $50,000 for an individual.
A company would have to pay a fine of $150,000 for a very serious infraction.
Contravention of the act could also land a violator in the proposed Revenue Court, where a fine of up to $50,000, a prison sentence of up to two years, or both, can be handed down for a variety of offenses.
The rules apply to VAT registrants, those who perform professional services, importers and even VAT officers.
As far as fines go, of the listed infractions in the draft regulations, 34 of them are listed as very serious, 18 are listed as serious and nine are listed as minor.
Some of the minor infractions include a registrant failing to display the price of an item exclusive of value added tax, and failing to display a valid certificate of registration in a conspicuous place in the location of taxable activity.
Serious offenses range from failing to properly fill out an import declaration form in the proper manner to interfering with the VAT commissioner in the exercise of his powers.
Very serious infractions include failure to give the VAT commissioner or VAT officer reasonable assistance or to answer questions; a bank or financial institution failing to comply with a request made by the VAT commissioner in writing; a promoter allowing public entertainment to take place without having paid the amount of security requested or without having received the approval of the VAT commissioner in writing, and failure to keep reliable accounting records in English in relation to taxable transactions or failing to keep such records for a period of seven years.
POWERS
The Central Revenue Agency will also be able to issue notices for access to premises allowing VAT officers to conduct audits or inspections. The CRA would also be allowed to take possession of a business' books, documents or computer records for further examination.
The CRA would also be able to issue notices to third parties, including contacting a registrant's bank or receivers to demand details about an individual's assets.
The CRA would also be empowered to garnish money held by third parties.
It would be able to seize goods, vehicles and other assets where it is proven that VAT due was not paid on the goods in question. Those goods seized may be sold to cover VAT due.
According to the legislation, proceeds from seizure and auctioning of assets will be used for any other related cost involved in process of seizure and the recovery of delinquent taxes.
Goods for auction include property and other assets not exempt by law. The CRA can also publish the names of non-compliant taxpayers in the newspapers. The VAT commissioner may also recover unpaid tax by distress proceedings.
Delinquent taxpayers can also be restricted from travel until outstanding taxes are settled.
The CRA would also be able to temporarily close businesses of non-compliant taxpayers for refusal to pay taxes due.
Financial Secretary John Rolle recently told The Nassau Guardian that a strict regime would have to be put in place to avoid VAT fraud and corruption.
"First you have to have the system to detect and the right controls," Rolle said. "And second, you make sure that the punishment is severe enough to be a deterrent.
"If there is someone who is an employee of the government and they are discovered to be corrupt, they can face fines of up to $100,000 depending on the severity of their transgression, plus imprisonment.
"That is going to be a part of this, making sure that punishment for going astray or being corrupt is severe and the punishment is given out."
The Ministry of Finance is setting up the CRA, which will be chiefly responsible for the collection of VAT, along with the Department of Customs.
Rolle estimates that the agency will need 150 people to run effectively.
He said the customs officers will collect VAT at the borders when non-exempt goods are imported. Business owners will be obligated to pay VAT to the Central Revenue Agency once they provide a service or sell goods.
Rolle said the Ministry of Finance will conduct spot checks, or audits, if there is reason to suspect that some businesses are trying to evade paying taxes.
The government plans to roll out VAT on July 1, 2014 at a rate of 15 percent in the wide majority of cases.

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News Article
BORCO's 400M expansion to capitalize on 'shutdowns'

The Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO) will pour $350 to $400 million into a "near term" expansion project in Grand Bahama to boost capacity in anticipation of refinery shutdowns in the region.
The disclosure, included in a presentation by parent company Buckeye Partners at a recent corporate access event, reveals specific details on the facility's push to "connect the dots" and meet a growing demand.
"Recent announcements of Northeast U.S. and Caribbean refinery shutdowns have created a need for new sources of product supply," the document read. "New global refining capacity coming online will seek deficit markets."
While the presentation doesn't delve into specifics
on the refineries in question, on the minds of investors is the impending shutdown of the HOVENSA oil refinery in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Back in January, the Hess Corporation, a key stakeholder in the refinery, said the low price of natural gas in the U.S., new refining capacity in emerging markets and the economic crisis had placed HOVENSA at a "competitive disadvantage".
The refinery is one of the 10 largest in the world and the biggest in the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, Buckeye Partners, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is expected to provide 7.9 million barrels of additional storage capacity at BORCO in the near term.
The Grand Bahama facility now includes 80 tanks, providing 21.4 million barrels of crude oil, fuel oil, and refined petroleum product storage. While the current expansion calls for adding 7.9 million barrels of capacity, there is "room to ultimately double the existing storage capacity".
The impending project is to be completed in phases, according to the presentation.
Phase one, adding capacity for an additional 3.5 million barrels, was initiated in the second quarter of last year.
The first incremental capacity is expected to be online soon, by the second half of this year, which includes a combination of refined products and fuel oil.
"Later phases" will bring in an additional 4.4 million barrels of storage, although it is unclear as to the exact timeline.
The $350 to $400 million build-out, once completed, is expected to bring $70 to $80 million in additional revenue before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
In addition to the BORCO expansion, Buckeye's Perth Amboy acquisition also features prominently in the parent company's strategy going forward.
The purchase, estimated to close in the second quarter of this year, involves a New York Harbor marine terminal for liquid petroleum products. Buckeye acquired this facility from Chevron for $260 million, in cash.
The presentation detailed the acquisition as a "unique opportunity" to acquire a key link in the product logistics chain and "unlock significant long-term value across the Buckeye enterprise".
The buy, according to the company, will represent hundreds of millions in future growth over the next several years.
The four docks, with pipeline, water, ray land truck access, is in close proximity to Buckeye's Linden complex.
Buckeye made the point that BORCO and Perth Amboy are central to the parent company developing a fully integrated and flexible network of global operations.
"Execution of this strategy will continue to differentiate Buckeye's service offerings and provide sustainability and optionality for further growth in our core businesses," the document said.
The BORCO storage expansion in Grand Bahama should continue to boost this area of the enterprise. In fact, 83 percent of its revenue came from storage, while 11 percent came from berthing and six percent "other ancillary" services.
Buckeye, according to representatives from the company, have paid cash distributions to unitholders each quarter since its formation in 1986 and has increased distributions for the past 31 consecutive quarters.

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News Article
Farquharson begins contempt sentence

Controversial attorney Geoffrey Farquharson began serving a 14-day contempt of court sentence Thursday after he told Justice Bernard Turner he had "no intention" of paying a $2,000 fine to avoid incarceration.
Farquharson joined his client Christopher Butler on the bus to Her Majesty's Prisons yesterday afternoon. Farquharson was representing Butler in a murder and armed robbery trial moments earlier.
Farquharson was all smiles and held his head high as two police officers led him away with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Two other officers followed holding Farquharson's briefcase, robe and law books.
Turner found Farquharson in contempt on May 22 for remarks that he made in the face of the court during the Kofhe Goodman murder trial.
On June 4, he was given 21 days to pay a $2,000 fine or, in default, spend 14 days in prison.
The deadline for the expiration for payment was yesterday as the sentence took effect from June 5.
After Butler's trial was adjourned until Monday, Turner asked Farquharson, "Would you indicate to this court if you have paid the fine?"
Farquharson replied, "No, I have not."
"Do you have a stay from the Court of Appeal?"
Farquharson said, "No, I do not. The court could not grant a stay on the facts before them and the transcripts were not available."
Asked if he was in the process of paying the fine, Farquharson replied, "I have no intention of paying the fine."
Farquharson asked the court to consider delaying the commencement of the sentence because he was currently in trial. However, Turner told him that he no longer had the authority to do so.
Farquharson said, "The court is intent to have counsel suffer the indignity of this penalty and damage to his career."
Turner said, "It gives me no pleasure of any sort. I handed down a penalty, a fine and in default of payment of the fine, 14 days in prison."
Before Turner ordered the court officer to take Farquharson away, he said, "You are going to have an unlawful sentence imposed on senior counsel when there are live issues as to whether the conviction was sound."
Turner cited Farquharson for contempt in relation to remarks that he made on May 15, 2013 and July 18, 2013 that impugned the integrity of the court.
In sentencing, Turner said that he was compelled to punish Farquharson to spare another judge from the same behavior.
He said that Farquharson was unrepentant in his behavior by maintaining that he acted properly.
On May 15, Farquharson said, "We are concerned that the apparent bias of the court may be tantamount to participation of the court wittingly, or unwittingly, to this perversion of justice.
"We say that what the prosecution has done is to fix this man up with a case, and that the court, by its actions, may well be viewed by a disinterested observer to be enabling that effort by the prosecution.
"If that is the case, my lord, that would mean that there was a suggestion that the court itself may be guilty of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."
On July 18, Farquharson accused the court of "blatantly and flagrantly disregarding the law and making up the law on which it purports to act".

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News Article
Farquharson to again appear in court on contempt matter

As time runs out for attorney Geoffrey Farquharson to pay a $2,000 fine levied on him by Justice Bernard Turner earlier this month for contempt of court, Farquharson is expected to appear before the Court of Appeal in a bid to convince it to grant a stay of the order.
This is the second time that Farquharson will petition the court for a stay. The first application was denied because Farquharson had failed to file the appropriate affidavits.
The deadline to pay the fine is June 26, according to Farquharson. Last Friday, Farquharson told The Nassau Guardian that he had no plans to pay the fine.
Farquharson said, "I did nothing wrong. I committed no contempt. I always tell young people not to knuckle under pressure.
"The only reason I would pay the fine is to avoid the embarrassment of going to prison and as unpalatable as that may be, I'm not going to knuckle and pay the fine."
Last week, the Court of Appeal refused to stay Turner's order pending an appeal of his decision.
The court suggested that Farquharson pay the fine, which would be refunded if the appeal succeeded.
But Farquharson said, after prayerful consideration, he has decided not to pay the fine.
Farquharson was found guilty of contempt of court on May 22 for his conduct during the Kofhe Goodman trial, which ended on October 29, 2013, when Goodman was sentenced to death for the September 2011 murder of primary school student Marco Archer.
Justice Turner cited Farquharson for contempt in relation to remarks that he made on May 15, 2013 and July 18, 2013 that impugned the integrity of the court.
In sentencing on June 4, Turner said that he was compelled to punish Farquharson to spare another judge from the same behavior.
He said that Farquharson was unrepentant in his behavior by maintaining that he acted properly.
On May 15, Farquharson said, "We are concerned that the apparent bias of the court may be tantamount to participation of the court wittingly or unwittingly to this perversion of justice.
"We say that what the prosecution has done is to fix this man up with a case, and that the court, by its actions, may well be viewed by a disinterested observer to be enabling that effort by the prosecution.
"If that is the case, my lord, that would mean that there was a suggestion that the court itself may be guilty of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."
In July, Farquharson accused the court of "blatantly and flagrantly disregarding the law and making up the law on which it purports to act".

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News Article
BORCO 'flagship' earns 46M in Q1

Buckeye Partners' operations in The Bahamas generated $46.1 million in the first three months of this year, representing a rise of nearly $5 million over the previous year.
Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO), the company's flagship oil terminal facility on Grand Bahama, has also initiated its expansion plans. It continues to be the jewel in Buckeye's international crown, comprising more than 90 percent of its total revenue among international operations.
Recent acquisitions in the U.S. are expected to "connect the dots" and complete Buckeye's storage and distribution network here in The Bahamas. In fact, Buckeye spent $73.3 million in capital expenditures in the first quarter on the Grand Bahama facility, up from $39 million during the same period in 2011.

"In the three months ended March 31 2012, maintenance capital expenditures included terminal pump replacements and truck rack infrastructure upgrades, as well as pipeline and tank integrity work, and expansion and cost reduction projects included significant investments in storage tank expansion at BORCO, biodiesel and butane blending, rail offloading facilities, and continued progress on a new pipeline and terminal billing system as well as various other operating infrastructure projects," the report stated.
For all international operations, Buckeye plans to invest $170 million in 2012.
BORCO will receive a major expansion and refurbishment to its storage tank capacity, the report went on, as well as further initiatives to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
Earlier this year, Guardian Business revealed Buckeye's master plan to pour up to $400 million into the BORCO facility to boost capacity.
The NYSE-listed company is expected to provide 7.9 million barrels of additional storage capacity at BORCO in the near term.
The Grand Bahama facility now includes more than 80 tanks, providing 21.4 million barrels of crude oil, fuel oil, and refined petroleum product storage. While the current expansion calls for the addition of 7.9 million barrels of capacity, there is "room to ultimately double the existing storage capacity," the report notes.
Essential to the long-term success of BORCO is the pending acquisition of the Perth Amboy Facility in New York Harbor from Chevron USA Inc. for $260 million.
Buckeye signed the agreement in February 2012, with the final transaction expected to occur in the second or third quarter of this year.
It paid a deposit of $14 million to Chevron in February.
"The Perth Amboy Facility will provide a link between our inland pipelines and terminals and our BORCO facility in The Bahamas, improving service offerings for our customers and providing further support to our planned clean products tankage expansion at the BORCO facility," the report added.
The company is looking capitalize on the shutdown of the HOVENSA oil refinery in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Back in January, the Hess Corporation, a key stakeholder in the refinery, said the low price of natural gas in the U.S., new refining capacity in emerging markets and the economic crisis had placed HOVENSA at a "competitive disadvantage".
The refinery was one of the ten largest in the world and the biggest in the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, "environmental liabilities" for the first three months of the year came in at $57.3 million, down slightly compared to the same period in 2011.
Buckeye said costs incurred may actually be in excess of this figure, and could have an impact on cash flow.

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News Article
Top dog breeds will have to get micro-chips
Top dog breeds will have to get micro-chips

The proposed Animal Protection and Control Bill mandates the insertion of

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News Article
Aging skin pt. 1

Aging is a process no one wants to go through, particularly women. We want to remain looking and feeling young -- forever.
Skin ages as a result of internal or external causes or a combination of both. Internal aging is caused by the genes we inherit, and is an ongoing process that commences in our mid-20s and continues until God calls us home. This occurs when the quality and quantity of collagen in the body begins to slowly decline. Collagen is an important structure of fibrous protein within the body that provides support and strength to many structures. Collagen in the skin ensures flexibility and strength, like building blocks to a building, along with elastin which is the substance that allows skin to snap back into place.
As we age, the loss of collagen in the skin leads to thinner and weaker skin that bears an increasing amount of fine wrinkles, thin and transparent skin, hollowed cheeks and sunken eyes, coupled with noticeable loss of firmness on the hands and neck and sagging skin, as well as dry skin that may itch. But the reality of what we do with our skin as we age depends on us, regardless of how old we are. Media and beauty companies promise ways to youthful, glowing and radiant skin -- for some it works -- for others it doesn't. And for those people for whom the products don't work, they tend to keep trying different concoctions hoping that what worked for their friends or colleagues would work for them. However, no two skins are the same -- not even people closely related to each other, and what one does to the skin can determine a positive or negative outcome.
Finding the appropriate sunblock is important for all skin types, and having the right moisturizer is key to preventing skin dryness and dehydration which in turn reduces skin discoloration, skin roughness and early development of fine wrinkles. The use of anesthetics, such as Botox and fillers, can also be beneficial in stalling deep wrinkle development of the forehead, smoothing out crow's feet around the eye's and erasing and reducing fine lines, frowning lips, droopy eye brows and thin lips. Peels and exfoliation procedures with chemicals and/or microdermabrasion can also be beneficial in restoring a healthy, youthful, less oily and smoother skin appearance of the face or body.
External aging is caused as a direct result of what the skin is exposed to, or what is applied to it. These products or the environment often act together with the normal internal aging process to prematurely age our skin. External factors include sun exposure, repetitive facial expressions, smoking and certain applied beauty products.
Sun exposure can lead to premature aging because of the ultraviolet rays that are given off by the sun. Several long, or multiple short intense sunbathing sessions cause gradual damage to the skin cells changing them from normal growing to abnormal or cancerous cells. These changes are more commonly seen in the fair skin population than those with dark skin. In the dark skin population, the signs of aging are usually limited to fine wrinkles and a discolored or an uneven skin complexion. However, that does not give the okay for dark-skinned people to spend long or short intense periods in the sun because they too can be at risk for abnormal skin cell changes that can be cancerous.
Repetitive facial expressions also cause premature aging. If you are constantly practicing facial exercises or expressions to either maintain a youthful-looking appearance, or want people to see what you really want to say, it is time you stop. Repetitive facial movements cause the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Every time your facial muscles move, grooves develop under the skin, which is why you may notice lines form with each facial expression. As we mature, our skin loses its elasticity and stops springing back to its line-free state, hence these grooves that are gradually developing become permanently etched on our faces as fine or deep lines and wrinkles.
Smoking on the whole is not good for you. Not only does it contribute to destroying your lungs and other internal organs, but it interferes with the normal growth and development of skin cells which speeds up aging. As a result, it helps in the formation of deeply wrinkled, leathery skin, and sometimes causes an unhealthy yellowish hue to appear.
Last but by no means least, certain beauty products that bleach, whiten, brighten or tone the face or body skin used regularly for prolonged periods can cause premature aging. It does this by drying out the skin, stripping it of essential moisture and disturbing the pigment cells so that an unnatural light complexion is obtained. Then, because the skin gradually becomes dry, it becomes more susceptible to premature wrinkling and to becoming more unevenly toned and sun sensitive. It is super important to always wear a sunblock to prevent further damage to the skin and precancerous development.

oDr. Rokeisha Clare-Kleinbussink studied at Cosmetology Cosmetic Training for Dermal Filler in London, UK and attended the Academy of Beauty Training for Laser and Microdermabrasion in Nottinghamshire, UK. She is also an associate lecturer of dermatology at the University of The West Indies. She has a private practice at Roseona House of General and Cosmetic Dermatology and can be reached at 422-2022.

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News Article
Cyberstalking: A new challenge for the workplace

Can you imagine your life without the use of the internet or a cellphone?  Probably not!  Emails and other electronic devices have become such critical vehicles for communicating and doing business, that it is hard to imagine how we ever lived without them. Unfortunately, as great as the Internet and other electronic devices may be, they have also become vehicles for scams, viruses and more recently in the workplace, a tool used by employees to engage in character assassination of each other via social networks, online harassment and cyberstalking.
Last week I sat in horror and listened as one of my international clients relayed a story that was so mind blowing, I felt like I was watching a cloak-and-dagger espionage movie!  Obviously the story is too long to relay in this forum, but here is the abridged version.  My client was a victim of email spoofing!  Exactly!  I didn't know what is was either but apparently email spoofing "is the forgery of an email header so that the message appears to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source."  In other words someone could send an email pretending to be you, and the receiver would have no reason to believe that it was not you, because the sender would be using your email address!  Yep it could happen!  Needless to say my client was in the hot seat and almost lost her job when she was confronted by the president of the company for supposedly sending mass emails to the entire staff highlighting the fact that he (the president) was "clueless, incompetent, lacked vision and was running the company into the ground."  Luckily for my client, someone in the information technology department decided to run a trace on the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the email and was able to track it to its real sender - a disgruntled employee who was recently demoted - go figure!
Having been a victim of online harassment and cyberstalking myself recently, (and for those of you who may not know what cyberstalking is, ladies and gentlemen "cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass.  The definition of 'harassment' must meet the criterion that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would regard it as sufficient to cause another reasonable person distress." Wikipedia) I knew exactly what my client was going through.
So this week I interviewed Royal Bahamas Police Force Cyber Crimes guru, Sergeant Dale Strachan, to shed some light on this growing problem.  Here is what he had to say:
Question: Have you seen a rise in cyber crimes in The Bahamas, for example on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks?
Answer: Yes. We have seen a rise in cyber crime in the following areas:
i. Threats of harm or death;
ii. Emailing of slanderous images or comments;
iii. Email hacking;
iv. A crime called phishing (where a website is created to look like the original, but it is actually a fraud).  This fake site is use to gather personal information from unsuspecting persons to defraud them of money.  Complaints are mainly from foreign victims reporting that a financial institution in The Bahamas posted the site.
Question: Why do you believe we are experiencing such a spike in cyber crimes?  What seem to be the motive(s) of the perpetrators?
Answer: The fact that the perpetrator thinks his/her identity will remain anonymous seems to be the driving force.  Ultimately the perpetrator's intent is to embarrass the victim or put him or her in fear.
Question: Is sending malicious or defamatory emails a crime in The Bahamas?  Define malicious, define defamatory.
Answer: Yes both are crimes.  Malicious is defined as nasty, hateful, mean, wicked, cruel emails continually being sent to the annoyance of the receiver.  Also referred to as annoying email, malicious emails are similar to a common offence known as annoying telephone calls.  We can add that emails threatening or implying harm or death are also an offence and amount to threats of harm or threats of death.  Defamatory is defined as slanderous, derogatory emails that are distributed to others and used as a vehicle to attack a person's character.
Question: What recourse does the receiver of malicious or defamatory emails have?  Can they seek police help?
Answer: Depending on the offence committed, victims have the following recourse:
o Police action can be taken;
o You can have the person bond over to keep the peace;
o You can take civil action in a court or file a lawsuit;
o You can report the email address of the sender to the hosting company as abuse and it will be removed.
Question: How can you track the sender of a malicious email?
Answer: The sender is tracked by the header information (contained in the original email.)
Question: What suggestions can you give persons to safeguard their email accounts?
Answer: Many persons in The Bahamas reported that their email accounts were hacked.  Our investigation proved that the following methods were used to obtain their personal information:
o Individuals received a "pop up" asking them to reset their password information.  The "pop up" claimed that if the password was not reset that the individual would loose his/her account.  Once the password is reset hackers have full access to your account.
o Individuals received a "pop up" asking for personal information, specifically the question that was used when you created your account.  Once you answer these questions you give hackers access to your account
o Using a public computer: When you "log off" of a public computer, persons can come after you, run password recovery software and extract your information.
o Using computers at a friend's house or the work place, to access you email account: Again the password can be extracted using recovery software.  In the workplace many companies have software installed on computers that monitor employee action online.  This software also captures password information.
o Your wireless network: When you put a password on a website wirelessly, anyone with access to your network also has access to all of the computers on that network and they can "sniff" traffic to capture your password.
o Be aware of putting other people's jump drives in your computer. These jump drives may contain programs that auto run with one purpose - to extract all password information that might reside on you computer.
o Do not accept the browser's suggestion to save a password.
o Set the cache on your browser to delete on exit.
 
Stacia Williams offers keynotes, workshops and personal coaching on a wide range of: Personal Branding, Image Management, Customer Service, Leadership, Business Etiquette & International Protocol Topics. You can contact Stacia Williams at 325-5992 or email Stacia@totalimagemanagement.com or visit staciawilliamsblog.com.

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News Article
Straw Vendors Are Bahamians And Taxpayers Too

Dear Editor,

We are of the view that there is a very pressing issue as it relates to the straw market that needs to be resolved. According to the Straw Market Authority Act and the law, the board is responsible for carrying out the mandate of the minister responsible for the straw market and the Straw Market Authority.

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News Article
Bill proposes stiffer penalties for organized crime

Amendments to the Penal Code would impose harsher penalties on people who participate in, or are a part of organized criminal groups in the country.
The proposed amendments are expected to be debated in the House of Assembly today, along with five other anti-crime bills that seek to impose heavier sentences on people convicted of serious offenses.
According to the bill, anyone who is convicted of being in an unlawful gang or participates in or contributes to the activities of an unlawful gang would be liable to a fine of $500,000, and imprisonment for 20 years, subject to a minimum term of 15 years.
"This bill seeks to bring this code in line with The Bahamas' international obligations to suppress organized crime under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and nationally to discourage membership in criminal gangs," the bill reads.
"The harsh penalties contained in this bill will be an effective deterrent to the plague by gang membership and organized crime to public order and safety, and this bill is intended to reclaim our streets and communities from criminal gang activity."
The bill describes an unlawful gang as any organized criminal group, or other body, consisting of three or more people who participate in illegal activities.
It defines an organized criminal group as a structured group of three or more people or legal entity, existing for a period of time that intends to commit serious offenses in order to obtain financial benefit.
In determining whether people participate in, or contribute to, an unlawful gang activity, the bill provides that the court may consider whether the person uses a name, word or other representation that identifies, or is associated with, an unlawful gang; frequently associates with any people who constitute an unlawful gang; receives any benefit from an unlawful gang; or frequently engages in activities at the instruction of any person a part of an unlawful gang.
It also states that any person who participates in, or contributes to the activities of an unlawful gang in the commission of an indictable offense, and is party to an offense of an unlawful gang would be liable upon conviction to a fine of $500,000 and 20 year's imprisonment, subject to a minimum of 15 years.
Anyone found in possession of a bulletproof vest -- whether lawfully obtained or not -- that is being used for the benefit of an unlawful gang would be liable upon conviction to a fine of $100,000 and 20 year's imprisonment, subject to a minimum of 15 years.
The bills were tabled in the House of Assembly last month.
The last package of anti-crime bills was brought by the Ingraham administration in 2011.

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News Article
Child abuse and protection

Child protection is the process of protecting individual children identified as either suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect. It involves measures and structures designed to prevent and respond to abuse and neglect.
Wikipedia defines child abuse as the physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. Any maltreatment, act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child is child abuse.
Child abuse can occur in a child's home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. There are four major categories of child abuse -- neglect, physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
Physical abuse involves physical aggression directed at a child by an adult. Most nations with child abuse laws consider the deliberate infliction of serious injuries, or actions that place the child at obvious risk of serious injury or death, to be illegal. Bruises, scratches, burns, broken bones, lacerations, as well as repeated "mishaps," and rough treatment that could cause physical injury, can be physical abuse.
Sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation. Sexual abuse refers to the participation of a child in a sexual act aimed toward the physical gratification or the financial profit of the person committing the act. Forms of child sexual assault include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual contact with a child, physical contact with the child's genitals, viewing of the child's genitalia without physical contact, or using a child to produce child pornography.
Some effects of sexual abuse to children include guilt and self-blame, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, fear of things associated with the abuse (including objects, smells, places, doctor's visits, etc.), self-esteem issues, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, addiction, self-injury, suicidal ideation, somatic complaints, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, other mental illnesses including borderline personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder, and a propensity to re-victimization in adulthood.
Emotional abuse is defined as the production of psychological and social deficits in the growth of a child as a result of behavior such as loud yelling, coarse and rude attitude, inattention, harsh criticism, and denigration of the child's personality. Other examples include name-calling, ridicule, degradation, destruction of personal belongings, (torture) or killing of a pet, excessive criticism, inappropriate or excessive demands, withholding communication, and routine labeling or humiliation.
Child neglect is the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child's health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm. Neglect is also a lack of attention from the people surrounding a child, and the non-provision of the relevant and adequate necessities for the child's survival, which would be a lacking in attention, love, and nurture.
Children have the right to grow in an environment where they are healthy, loved, educated and treated with respect. They have the right to be protected from abuse and abusive situations that would and do affect their development into healthy and happy citizens and people who contribute to their community, lives and families.
The rights of children and the law
Constitutional rights apply to all age groups and children have the same rights as adults.
Children are however more vulnerable therefore it is important to recognize their special need for protection of the law.
In the Bahamas, children's rights are defined and governed by The Child Protection Act 2010 which also incorporates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention).
Therefore in The Bahamas, not only do we have protection for our children by way of statute but international law provides an even broader social responsibility and further protection for children.
The general rights of the child are defined by section 4 of The Child Protection Act 2010 which states that a child shall have the right: Of leisure which is not normally harmful, and the right to participate in sports and positive cultural and artistic activities; to a just call on any social amenities or other resources available in any situation or armed conflict or natural or man-made disasters and to exercise, in addition to all the rights stated in this Act, all the rights set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
Apart from the general rights of a child, Section 14 of the Act also encapsulates other rights of children to include the right of access of both parents as guardian of a child. Section 14 is consistent with and supports Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will. Therefore, unless there is a good reason to exceptional circumstances which are in the best interest of the child, children have a right to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents, whether the parents are married or not.
o For more information, or if you would like to speak to someone about something that is bothering you, telephone The Crisis Centre 24-hour hotline at 328-0922 or 322-4999. Check out our website at www.bahamascrisiscentre.org or contact us. Email us at bahamascrisiscentre@yahoo.com or call us.

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News Article
Rolle: Drawing maritime border not enough

Discussions between The Bahamas and United States to define a maritime border should have an impact on those making a living out on the waters, according to Winston Rolle, CEO at Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC).
Rolle told Guardian Business that he welcomed the talks between the two countries, which began last week because it is an opportunity for stronger policing of Bahamian borders.
However, he maintains that a key element to the discussions will be the border's management, once it has been established and defined.
"It should be impactful for those persons that make a living on the waters, such as fishing, especially as we look at how we can better police our borders. Persons may come fishing into out waters indiscriminately, so I think that it can be impacted. But the key will be how do we manage it. Drawing the lines is one thing but it also has to be adequately managed to our benefit," Rolle said.
"I think it is going to require lots more work, especially from officials from the Royal Bahamas Defense Force."
At the opening of last week's discussions, Brent Symonette, minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister, emphasized that defining a maritime border between The Bahamas and the United States will allow for more efficient management of the country's marine resources.
The two countries began their first set of technical meetings last Thursday on the delimitation of a maritime boundary.
Symonette also revealed to Guardian Business that the session was the beginning of formal negotiation that will ultimately define The Bahamas' maritime borders.
"A defined maritime border between The Bahamas and the United States will allow for more effective law enforcement of The Bahamas' maritime area, including a more efficient management of fisheries resources and further advancement towards mitigating environmental degradation," he said.
Michael Braynen, director at the Department of Marine Resources, pointed out how these negotiations are expected to clearly define a limit between the United States and the waters of The Bahamas.
"It will make a lot of difference on the Bahamian side with respect to law enforcement and also with the respect to turning the attention of people to the waters well beyond our coastal areas," he explained.
"In The Bahamas, most of our fishing takes place in coastal areas. I think some of the attention that will arise from these delimitation talks will cause Bahamians to look more at these resources of the deeper waters."
These talks come weeks after executives of the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA) emphasized the need for heavy patrol to take place in the southern Bahamas.
"I think the more assets that you give the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF), the better it will be in the fight against poaching. More importantly, the assets have to be properly deployed because at the moment the RBDF have assets but they are just not in the areas where it is most needed which is in the southern Bahamas," according to Adrian LaRoda, secretary and head of publications at BCFA.
The prime minister said the Free National Movement (FNM) administration will spend $120 million on 11 new vessels for the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) and $20 million to deepen Coral Harbour.
To date, The Bahamas has completed a maritime border agreement with Cuba and has initiated talks with the United Kingdom in respect of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
However, these talks were suspended due to internal issues that exist in those islands.

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News Article
Poachers imprisoned

Forty-three Dominican poachers began serving prison sentences yesterday after they were unable to pay fines that totaled $219,000.The Dominicans pleaded guilty to illegal fishing, possession of undersized crawfish, possession of grouper during the closed season, possession of grouper weighing under three pounds, fishing in the exclusive fisheries zone and possession of egg-bearing crawfish.The poachers, four of whom have previous convictions for similar offenses in The Bahamas, admitted the charges through a Spanish interpreter at their arraignment before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt.The crew of HMBS Nassau spotted six vessels suspected of poaching on February 8, prosecutors said.According to prosecutors, the boats shut off their lights and dispersed as the Defence Force vessel approached. The marines were able to intercept one boat, The Triton, near the Great Bahama Bank.The Dominicans put up resistance as their vessel was boarded, prosecutors said.During a search of the boat, marines found an array of fisheries resources, including Nassau Grouper for which the season is closed, and undersized crawfish.Ferguson-Pratt fined the poachers $500 on each of the six counts. If the fines are not paid, they would be imprisoned for three months.As for Raul Martinez and Santos Bergos who were convicted of illegal fishing in 2010, the magistrate sentenced them to three months each in addition to the fine.The other two poachers' convictions dated back to the 1990s so Ferguson-Pratt did not consider their records in sentencing.When Ferguson-Pratt asked the men if they were able to pay their fines, they responded with a chorus of "no".The court confiscated the fish, boats and fishing apparatus to the Crown.

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News Article
Buckeye takes 8M hit in FERC order

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued an order disallowing proposed rate increases by Buckeye Partners that would cost the company $8 million every year.
Buckeye Partners, the parent company of Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO) in Grand Bahama, had planned to bring in the rate increases this month.
BORCO is one of the largest oil and petroleum storage facilities in the world and a key strategic asset in the company's portfolio.
"The proposed rate increases were expected to increase Buckeye's revenues on an annual basis by approximately $8 million," the report said. "Buckeye believes the short-term impact of the order will not be material, and expects to provide additional information of significance to investors as FERC's review of the program progresses."
Meanwhile, in addition to the restriction on rate increases, FERC is questioning the market-based methodology used by one of Buckeye's subsidiaries.
Since 1991, the company has sought "unique methodology" that constrains rates based on competitiveness pressures that FERC found to be competitive as well as certain other limits on rate increases, according to the report. While this approach was granted by 1994, it was subject to FERC's ability to terminate the arrangement at any time.
The matter was indeed revisited last month.
The order states that it will once again review "the continued efficacy of Buckeye's unique program and directs Buckeye to show cause why it should not be required to discontinue the program and avail itself of the generic ratemaking methodologies used by other oil pipelines".
The company has 30 days to respond to the order.
Last month, Guardian Business reported that BORCO will pour $350 to $400 million into a "near term" expansion project in Grand Bahama.
The move is partly in anticipation of refinery shutdowns in the region that would subsequently boost the facility's capacity. While the company has not delved into specifics, the shutdown of HOVENSA oil refinery in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, is no doubt on the minds of investors.
The refinery was one of the 10 largest in the world and the biggest in the Caribbean.
The investment in the BORCO facility should provide 7.9 million barrels of additional storage in the near term. It now includes 80 tanks, providing 21.4 million barrels of crude oil, fuel oil and reigned petroleum product storage.

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News Article
Paradise Plates serves up a night to savour

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Paradise Plates, Hands For Hunger's third annual fundraiser held recently in the Crown Ballroom at Atlantis, served-up another unforgettable evening to the more than 400 hundred guests who came out in a large show of support. Sponsored by The New Providence Development Company Limited and Tommy Hilfiger, the creatively presented event showcased a lavish array of gourmet food prepared by Chefs from Nassau's premier restaurants, fine wine, spirits and live entertainment with all proceeds benefiting Hands For Hunger the non-profit, humanitarian organization committed to the elimination of unnecessary hunger and the reduction of food waste throughout New Providence.

"We are, once again, overwhelmed by the success of Paradise Plates and are very grateful to our sponsors, participants and guests for their incredible generosity and support," said Rosamund Roberts, Director of Fundraising for Hands For Hunger. "The biggest congratulations for the evening go to our talented Chefs, vintners, beverage and cigar participants who were so accommodating and gracious and served exceptional cuisine, fine wines and drinks. We thank each and every person who attended; they helped to create an unforgettable evening."

Showcasing their sensational food to appreciative guests were the Chefs from Old Fort Bay Club; Mesa Grill; Nobu; Dune; British Colonial Hilton; Luciano's of Chicago; Goodfellow Farms; Food Art by Cacique; Something's Different Edible Art Boutique; Chives Café; Tantalizing Treats; Go Green Café; Le Petit Gourmet, and Balduccino's Fine Foods. Also showcased were fine wines by Mendoza Wine Imports, Sands Beer by Sands Brewery, mineral infused water by Nautilus, Switcha Limeaid; signature coffee and petites by Starbucks Bahamas, guava vodka martinis by Tropics All Natural Drink Mixes. Cigar aficionados enjoyed rolled cigars from Havana Humidor which donated 100% of the cigar sales proceeds to Hands For Hunger.

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News Article
For the love of our boys

Almost seven years ago, I gave birth to my first child, a boy. From that moment on, I learned how beautiful and amazing it is to be a mother of a boy. I was fortunate that I was not alone in raising my son. Being a female, you can imagine my apprehension on the thought of possibly not knowing what to do with a boy. He had his father, mentors, lots of male family and cousins. So, for sure, I knew that it was going to be OK, that where I fell short, my husband would guide the way. As time passed, I realized that raising a boy was different, but the fundamentals should, and would, be the same. Boys need love just as much as girls.
As I look around, read the news and hear some unfortunate stories, I can't help but wonder if we are losing the battle with the boys of our country. Where are they? What are they thinking and do they have direction, positivity, security and love in their life? Or are they told to "be a man" right out of diapers? I'm not much for gender definitions, what's allowed and what isn't doesn't appeal to me that much. But it's important to define what "be a man" means. Some may agree that being a man means that you are strong, dominant, honest, reliable, logical, a care-giver, provider, protector and leader. Thankfully, there are men in the world that embody those attributes, but are the young people, in our country, portraying these qualities? Are mothers raising these boys alone with little to no support? If, in fact, women are raising boys, does that mean that it's not possible to raise boys effectively, being a single mother? Not likely. I think that your circumstances should not define you but rather inspire you. There are many great men that have been raised by single parents -- take United States President Barack Obama, for instance.
The question of why there seems to be a problem is not black and white. There is no one single reason that the young boys of our country seem to be more interested in the hustle. They want fast and easy money and sit on the block waiting for things to happen. They show their power through fear and intimidation. They handle disagreements with weapons, rather than their words. We have to wonder who the boys are watching. Are they getting positive communication and having meaningful relationships to help them define what being a man means to them? And if these young boys are not getting the help and support, are they then angry because of it?
Sadly, there are people that think to raise a boy means to rough them up -- to not show emotion and love, to only show aggression and intimidation. To communicate with a fist instead of words, just to make sure they don't become "soft". To show emotion and love is to be weak. It's a vicious cycle that, unfortunately, throws our boys into a place of fear and darkness. It has been said that the absence of love is the worst punishment for a human being and has been described as living in a hellish state. It is human to need and want love. We were created to love and be loved, to feel valid and valuable.
Our boys need to know that they are valid, that they are loved, important and needed. They need to know that it takes a stronger man to be vulnerable and show emotion. So, if you are a mother of a boy, please show your love for them while still being able to give them the tools to be successful men in our society. Not to do everything for them, but rather to show them how it's done through positive communication and connections. We need our boys to know that they can step above the negativity and empower themselves because they are strong. I encourage you to step up and be a part of the solution, to encourage and inspire our young boys.
Love and hugs!
o Bianca Carter is a certified lactation counselor (CLC), and founder of Bun in the Oven. For more information, give us a call at 601-6977 or visit us at the Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza, next to Starbucks. Follow us on facebook at babybunintheoven, email us at info@babybunintheoven.com, visit us at www.babybunintheoven.com.

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News Article
Discover and recover

Nothing is more certain than the fact, that we will all experience problems from time to time in both our personal and professional life -- this is just a fact of life. However, the main point that I wish to make here today is this -- when we encounter these everyday problems, we must never give up pursuing our dreams. Instead, we need to realize, that as Dr. Denis Waitley put it in his book "The Psychology of Winning" problems are normal. Yes indeed they are, problems are an integral part of everyday living for us all. So we must never allow them to deter us from continuing to move forward in pursuit of our goals and objectives.
Webster's dictionary defines a problem as a matter proposed for solution. So in other words, all problems have solutions. Yes they do. So this is where today's important lesson comes into play, for it's all about solving our problems. The first thing which we need to do when confronted with a problem is to simply define it in great detail thus we will discover what the root of the problem really is.
It's important for us as we attempt to fully define and discover what the actual problem is, to write it out in great detail. As Charles Kettering once said "A problem well stated is half solved." And that is indeed absolutely true. So we've dealt with the first word in today's title "discover" as we now know exactly what the problem is and how to resolve it.
So, let's move on to the second word in today's title, "recover". How exactly do we recover from the present situation that the problem has landed us in? In other words, we now start to draw up a plan of action which when implemented will completely eliminate the factors which caused the problem in the first place.
Yes my friend, problems are indeed a very normal part of everyday life for all of us. So we should never fear problems, but instead tackle them in a most positive, and forthright manner thus solving them thereby turning them into golden opportunities to advance along the road of life toward the target, which is of course success city.
o Think about it!Z
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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News Article
Farquharson served full 14 days

Attorney Geoffrey Farquharson did not get a one-third reduction from his 14-day contempt of court sentence.
Justice Bernard Turner had calculated that Farquharson would spend 10 days in prison with time off for good behavior.
However, the court was informed that the prison only granted remission on sentences over a month.
Farquharson was scheduled to be released on Thursday.
He was representing Christopher Butler in a murder and attempted murder trial when he was sent to prison for failing to meet a June 26 deadline to pay a $2,000 fine to purge his contempt.
Farquharson was given 21-days to pay the fine, but he said he had "no intention" of paying it. In an interview with The Nassau Guardian prior to his incarceration, Farquharson said he was not paying the fine on principle because he had done nothing wrong.
The murder trial was scheduled to resume yesterday.
Turner cited Farquharson for contempt in relation to remarks that he made on May 15, 2013 and July 18, 2013 that impugned the integrity of the court.
In sentencing on June 4, Turner said that he was compelled to punish Farquharson to spare another judge from the same behavior.
He said that Farquharson was unrepentant in his behavior by maintaining that he acted properly.
On May 15, Farquharson said, "We are concerned that the apparent bias of the court may be tantamount to participation of the court wittingly, or unwittingly, to this perversion of justice.
"We say that what the prosecution has done is to fix this man up with a case, and that the court, by its actions, may well be viewed by a disinterested observer to be enabling that effort by the prosecution.
"If that is the case, my lord, that would mean that there was a suggestion that the court itself may be guilty of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."
On July 18, Farquharson accused the court of "blatantly and flagrantly disregarding the law and making up the law on which it purports to act".

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News Article
SME consultant: 'Speed up' VAT education efforts

A prominent business trainer and consultant has stated that the government needs to "speed up" its value-added tax (VAT) education efforts for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), claiming efforts need to start no later than August if it expects small business owners to comply with the tax by January.
Business trainer and consultant Mark Turnquest described the impending tax as a "necessary evil", given the national debt, but urged the government to quickly establish specific training programs for what he described as the three main branches of SMEs ahead of VAT implementation.
"A concern I have for small businesses is that each small business model, in reference to service, manufacturing and merchandising, is different. We operate in different ways, and the training we need in reference to accounting procedures and how to report to the Central Revenue Agency [is different]. We need to determine exactly how to do that.
"We want to be trained by the government how to submit reports and how to deal with VAT based on the three different areas...instead of one big bulk training for everyone."
Both the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) and Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) have expressed interest in providing comprehensive VAT training programs for small businesses and professionals leading up to January, but are awaiting the legislation before revealing further details.
The government will implement a VAT at a rate of 7.5 percent effective January 1, 2015. Turnquest insisted that VAT training for SMEs must begin by August to give small businesses owners time to restructure their businesses.
"Small business owners don't mind taking care of paying bills; we just want to be treated fairly and want well defined and well structured [systems]," stated Turnquest.
"We need the government to now start to train. It's taken a little long; there's no schedule of training...but let's face it, we're now only six months away, so we need some clearly defined, appropriate training.
The government has yet to release the proposed VAT legislation and regulations. Such details have been deemed key by organizations such as the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) to initiating meaningful education efforts.
Speaking on the implementation of the controversial tax, Turnquest said: "We know that the country is in severe debt, and we know that there are some critical measures in reference to tax reform that need to take place. We don't have a problem paying taxes; we just want information on when VAT is going to go up...so that we can plan properly."
However, Turnquest argued that SMEs should be allotted a three-year period to adjust to the tax: "We cannot adjust our business model as quickly as big businesses, and we have limited resources, so my recommendation is to make sure that the government has a well defined plan how (SME's) are going to deal with the VAT increases".
Turnquest also called for more extensive cuts on government spending to accompany VAT implementation, citing redundancies in civil service as a prime candidate for reform.
"We know that there are a lot of individuals who are not working at all because there's too much duplicate work, and the government is not organizing a performance review to determine people who should be retired honorably."
Turnquest felt that the government required substantial "restructuring to make sure that they run a highly oiled organization," and called on the government to reduce its number of civil servants from 25,000 to 18,000-20,000.
"Without government focus on cutting costs and actually collecting taxes, no other new taxes will be important because we still will be throwing good money down the hole."

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News Article
Desire, discipline, dedication

For anyone who wishes to succeed in life, either personally or professionally, the three words in today's title are absolute essentials 'Desire---Discipline---Dedication'. So, let's take each word, examine it in detail and discuss its relevance and importance as it relates to being successful.
The first word is 'Desire'. Now, if we log onto dictionary.com and look up the word 'Desire' it defines it as follows "To wish or long for; crave; want". So, we can see quite clearly, that in order to get to first base, so to speak, it's most important for a person to really long for overall success in their life. A person needs to want to succeed in a most determined way so that they will daily do what needs to be done to make their abstract dreams concrete reality in their life. So, 'Desire' is an absolute Must for anyone who wishes to excel, in either their personal or professional life.
The second in our trio of important words today is 'Discipline'. Once again, if we log onto dictionary.com and look up the meaning of the word 'Discipline' it states as follows "Training to act in accordance with rules". You see, having the desire to succeed and thus establishing our goals and objectives, will not really get us very far in life without having the Discipline to ensure that we do whatever is necessary in order for us to be able to, eventually achieve our goals, one by one.
I remember well interviewing my good friend The Governor General of The Bahamas His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes for my 'Success Files' series some years ago. I asked him how important he thought Discipline was. He replied "Without Discipline no one can make it".....oh how true that is!
So we get to the third important word in today's title 'Dedication'. The World English Dictionary defines 'Dedication' as "The act of dedicating or the state of being dedicated". Dictionary.com defines the word 'Dedicated' as "Wholly committed to something". Now I'm sure, that just about everyone in my reading audience fully understands, that if one wishes to be successful at anything, they simply MUST be wholly committed to the achievement of the task at hand, no matter what it is.
So, there you have it My Friend, a short recipe for success at all that you undertake in life each and every day and it's all summed up in these three words 'Desire -- Discipline & Dedication'.
o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com
Liaten to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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News Article
Boys to men: A deficient rite of passage for the Bahamian male
Boys to men: A deficient rite of passage for the Bahamian male

In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father's Day a national holiday in the United States of America. The day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June and The Bahamas, like many other nations, has adopted this tradition.
The significant role of fathers in the national and social development cannot be emphasized enough. Moreover, the extremely pivotal part of fathers and fatherhood in the proper upbringing of children has never been more pronounced than in today's society. Fathers and father figures must continue to provide the unique nurturing necessary to help boys transition successfully into men.

Questions in today's society
Our society and indeed the world as a whole is plagued with so many woes that raise myriad questions and create conundrums in communities challenged by the degradation of the fabric of our moral values. Central to the heart of our societal evils and problems, it appears, is the void created by the absence of the revered guidance and discipline that fathers and the men of The Bahamas are known and respected for. Hence, the debate and queries persist as to the origin or genesis of this abdication of this divine duty to instruct and guide the next generation.
It is important that we take an introspective look and search out the answers to the silent questions that arise in our minds as crime continues to plague our society and our young people subconsciously seek help. Who will stand up and stand in the gap for our young men? Who will be their voice? Where are the fathers armed with the responsibility of nurturing and mentorship? Where are the upstanding men of society who are living a successful and prosperous life but fail to help our young men? Who dares to go into the communities and reach out to these young men and show care? The key word being care - not for exploitation, gain or publicity, but out of genuine concern and care for their well-being.
Our young men are dropping out of school in droves; they are roaming through the streets while others sit on the blocks lamenting their travails and the cruelty of a society in which they feel like outlaws. While some refuse to seek legitimate gainful employment, others are unable to find jobs and pledge their allegiance to the 'street'. They say the streets have raised them and therefore they must be loyal to the streets. Truly this is a vexing issue that provides a challenge to the transition of boys to men.

Rites of passage
The phrase 'rite of passage' often speaks to an individual's transition from one status to another. In this regard, the transition to manhood in the case of boys is marked in some indigenous cultures in the form of a ritual. The essence of this ritual, which is often preceded by successful completion of certain prerequisites under the tutelage and guidance of older men, is the culmination of a period of teaching, mentoring, discipline and impartation of a sense of responsibility.
In our civilization, the responsibility to ensure the successful transition of our boys into good men falls upon each and every one of us and more specifically upon the fathers and older men of The Bahamas. There is no doubt that the family, communities, churches, the government, schools and civic organizations ought to make their contribution. We cannot assume that the other is doing their job and run the risk of no one executing their part. However, the men of today have a significant role to play in determining the future men produced by our country. Today's fathers and men in leadership roles must observe the actions of our young men that are killing one another and have by consequence declared war against themselves. Their actions appear to show unconsciously an aggressive and negative cry for help from the stronger in society - specifically fathers and older men.
It is often said that one cannot give what he or she does not have. How can a man without honor seek to raise an honorable young man knowing fully well that actions speak louder than words? Are today's fathers and leading men in society living a life worthy of respect and honor? The answer is a subjective one, but we must be true and honest with ourselves when answering. Respect for one's self and others is key to the promotion and attainment of peace and harmony in today's society.

Respect for women
We can only successfully tackle our social ills by returning to the basics and the principles that have worked for us as a society. In simple terms, we must teach our sons the common basics such as manners, etiquette, proper hygiene and a growing sense of respect for women.
We live in a society where infidelity, domestic violence, rape and other offenses against women are prevalent. We must return to the days when it was admirable to be a gentleman; a time when it was inappropriate for a male to touch a lady without her expressed permission or implied approval based only on a high level of familiarity. Young men must be taught to address ladies that they have no relations to with respect; addressing them by their names and not "sweetie", "honey", "baby" and the likes. In today's enlightened and liberal society, there is a thin line between what constitutes sexual harassment and what does not.
The best gift fathers and men can give to boys as they transition from boyhood to manhood is to lead by example. Affection and loyalty shown by a man to his wife as an example go a long way. Men must master the art of conflict resolution and walking away from a fight, rather than fuelling the same with violent retaliation. More importantly, morals and values - spiritual or otherwise - must be central to any rites of passage for boys.

Young men are the solution
Our young men must not be seen as the problem, but rather a solution to today's and tomorrow's problems. How can a problem solve a problem? Therefore, we must label them what we want them to be. The young men have strength, we should utilize it. The old men with wisdom and understanding should use it to address the challenges of the young men by applying the knowledge they have acquired over time.

A salute to fathers
The transition from boyhood to manhood is rarely easy. Today we salute fathers who have taken their rightful place in society and have provided instruction to their biological, foster and adopted sons. Indeed it is their investments in the next generation that gives hope to our dear nation. Even though the celebration of Father's Day is officially over and the festivities have been completed, we honor the men of our country who have been responsible for the transition of our boys into good men.
The fathers and father figures must continue to teach our young men that their manhood is not defined by the level of bass in their voices, the number of female acquaintances they possess, the number of times they have been on the wrong side of the law or how much money they possess. They should know that a man is defined by his honor, dignified labor and integrity. All they need to do is emulate their fathers and they will be fine. Or will they? Happy belated Father's Day!

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

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News Article
Electronic monitoring system needs upgrading

Dear Editor,
There has been much said about the use of electronic monitoring of offenders in The Bahamas. We know that the government of The Bahamas engaged the use of this system through the Ministry of National Security and its agency Her Majesty's Prisons. Many have indicated their views on its effectiveness in the fight against crime.
Studies around the world on the use and effectiveness of electronic monitoring (ankle bracelets) have been extremely effective, but only when it is used in the appropriate manner. The monitoring of sexual offenders living in a particular community - low- to moderate-risk offenders - is an example of good candidates.
In The Bahamas, the previous government saw the use of this system to aid law enforcement in a number of different areas. It is my belief that the main area of concern was to first reduce the overall cost associated housing prisoners on an annual basis and to alleviate the overall crowding associated with Her Majesty's Prisons.
I am convinced that as deployed in The Bahamas, electronic monitoring of offenders can work as it does around the world. It is simply not structured as it should be to be effective. There has to be some structure to the process involving the Ministry of National Security, police, judges and the company contracted to monitor the offenders.
Judges and magistrates have to be educated on the technology so that when granting bail it has to be issued with some level of limitation. It makes no sense granting bail to high-risk offenders or people with serious charges for their own safety. The goal is to allow them to not be in a cell but confined to the comforts of their homes. The technology allows for this and it is called geofencing. This is the most effective method of monitoring and it allows monitoring companies to always know who is suppose to be where at a particular time. As it is today in several major islands, most offenders do not have this type of limitation.
It may also help if every person who is permitted to have an electronic monitoring bracelet (ankle bracelet) has a public bondsman sponsor or bailiff assigned to him. This person must be able to account for the offender's whereabouts at all times.
I believe once the initial intent for the electronic monitoring system for offenders in The Bahamas is revisited, you will find that we are using it entirely incorrectly. The best use is to have people with less than one year in prison allowed on the program; also people who are low to medium risk who can be home confined after a particular time. A person charged with murder, rape or threats against another person may not be a prime candidate.
It will not make any difference whether police or a private company monitor these offenders if the bail laws are not amended to include home confinement or geofencing. It will continue to not be successful. It defeats the purpose of being monitored if offenders can be anywhere at any time.

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News Article
Long Island student snags National All-Island Senior Young Chef crown

N.G.M. Major High School student Cordell Wells was crowned the winner of the National All-Island Senior Young Chef Competition.
The 15-year-old 10th grade Long Island student won with his Yuma Pulled Mutton in a Pumpkin Crawfish Rice Mold with Vinaigrette Coleslaw, which was awarded the Best Robin Hood Flour dish, and his Molten Chocolate Fruit Surprise with Coconut Cream Anglaise and Whipped Cream Topping.
He snagged a Lincoln College of Technology scholarship worth $10,000 and a cash prize of $1,500 for his win.
Cordell was the third student from N.G.M. Major to capture the senior title. Denece Adderley took the title in 1998. Rhonda Major took back-to-back honors in 1995 and 1997.
Eight Mile Rock High School's Luciano Simmons was scored in the second spot. The Grand Bahama 11th grade student prepared a Mahi Mahi Rice Patty served with Pumpkin Soup and a Island Savory Cupcake Trio. Simmons also won a scholarship tenable at Lincoln College of Technology valued at $5,000 and a cash prize of $750 from Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour, distributed in The Bahamas by Asa H. Pritchard Ltd.
C.R. Walker Senior High School's Taneisha Rolle cooked her way to a third place showing with her Bahama Chocolate Lava Cake and her Spicy Coconut Conch Jambalaya with Bahama Seafood Sausage which was awarded the Best Mahatma Rice Dish. She walked away with $300.
Helena Hepburn of San Salvador High finished fourth with her Irresistible Tropical Pumpkin Cake with Strawberry Blueberry Cream cheese Sauce and Mouth Watering Rice Bowls with Salmon and Vegetable Stir-fry. Her take home cash prize was $250.
"This year I have seen tremendous improvement in the quality of product produced by all of the students," said Chef Edwin Johnson of Gilgan Holdings who has judged at the competition since its inception 21 years ago. "Good skills were demonstrated as relates to organization, cooking skills, calmness, menu and recipe presentation and compilation with more attention paid to sanitation. We've also seen more use of indigenous products. Items like noni, hibiscus flowers, rice to make drinks and conch made into sausage. More technique and cooking skills are being used to secure the nutritional value of food," he said.
Atlantis executive chef Clement Williams, RIU executive chef Don Ingraham, manager of test kitchens for Mahatma Rice Debbie Wheeler, and Culinary Hospitality Management Institute Chef/Lecturer Eldred Saunders also judged the competition.

Yuma Pulled Mutton in Pumpkin-Crawfish Rice Mold Topped with Vinaigrette Coleslaw

Mutton pre-boil
6 oz fresh Long Island mutton, de-boned
1 tsp Season All
1 bay leaf
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 lime juiced

Mutton-pulled
6 oz Long Island mutton, gravy included
1/4 onion, chopped
Mutton pre-boil method
In a medium sized pot combine 1 cup of water, mutton and half of seasonings. Boil for 15 minutes on medium low heat. Pour off water. Add the other half of ingredients and water and mutton and boil for another 30 minutes. Add an additional teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. Let cool and refrigerate overnight in juices.

Mutton-pulled method
In a small Pyrex pan combine the mutton and chopped onion. Bake for 20 minutes. Pull mutton and keep warm.
Pumpkin mousse
1/4 cup homegrown pumpkin, roasted and pureed
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp butter
1/8 cup heavy cream
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
In a medium frying pan combine butter and onion, stir fry until translucent. Add spices and seasonings, cook until spices scent the air. Then add pumpkin puree. Whip cream until stiff. Add pumpkin mixture and fold into cream.

Pumpkin-Crawfish Rice Mold
1/3 cup Mahatma Extra Long Grain Enriched Rice
5 cups of water
2 tbsps salt
In a large pot add water, bring water to a boil. Meanwhile in a colander in a clean drain add rice and rinse thoroughly, let drain. Once water has come to a boil, add rice and salt. Keep boiling for 11 to 12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Rice mold
1/3 cup rice, cooked
1 small fresh crawfish tail, deveined, boiled and minced
1 tbsp butter
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh pumpkin, roasted in olive oil and pinch of salt

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease four molds of a muffin tin.
In a medium-sized bowl, add rice and pumpkin. Mash and stir until combined, add crawfish, repeat process. Add other ingredients and stir until combined. Add 2 tablespoons to each mold, press into the bottom and sides making sure the rims of each mold are even. Bake for 20 minutes. When finished, do not allow to cool.

Cole slaw
1/8 cup finely shredded white cabbage
1/8 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1 tbsp finely shredded carrots
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp crushed black pepper
In a small bowl, add vegetables. In an air-tight container, add other ingredients and shake until combined. Add vinaigrette to veggies and toss. Toss and refrigerate.

Spicy tomato glaze
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
In a small saucepan, add the first five ingredients until combined. Then add the rest of ingredients and slowly cook on medium heat for 30-35 minutes. Let cool and strain in a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use. Make sure to take glaze out at least 30 minutes before serving.

Assembly of rice mold
In a medium-sized plate, place a rice mold and add a dollop of the pumpkin mousse. Place a forkful or more of the pulled mutton and a pinch of the vinaigrette coleslaw. Drizzle with spicy tomato glaze.

Molten Chocolate Fruit Surprise with Coconut Cream Anglaise and Whipped Cream Topping

Molten Chocolate Cake
1/3 cup Robin Hood Flor
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp freshly grated coconut
2 tbsps guava, slightly pureed
2 tbsp crushed fresh pineapple
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, add all ingredients and whisk thoroughly until combined. Add mix to ramekins by 1/4 cup fills. Bake in a 9-10 inch pan for 12-14 minutes.

Guava-Raspberry Syrup
2 tbsps guava puree, strained
2 tbsps raspberry puree, strained
2 tbsps sugar
4 tbsps water
In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and whisk together. Cook slowly over a medium-low flame for 20 minutes.

Coconut Creme Anglaise
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 tbsps sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp coconut extract
In a medium saucepan, add milk and cream and cook on medium heat until it comes to a light boil. In a small bowl add eggs and sugar and whisk until fluffy and pale. To the milk mixture, add extract. Add some of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture by tablespoons until mixture is at room temperature whisking after every tablespoon. Return to saucepan and cook on low heat until mixture coats the back of your wooden spoon. Let cool and cover tightly.

Assembly of cake
In a medium-sized plate, ladle a spoonful of the creme anglaise in the center of the plate. Gently spread out the anglaise into a wide circle. Place a cake in the center of the anglaise puddle and top with whipped cream. With a piping bag filled with the guava and raspberry reduction, place sequencing dots of syrup about 1/2 inch apart, then gently with the tip of a knife, starting from any dot, pull knife through all dots until you reach the starting dot.

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News Article
Chilean-style pension reform, pt. 2

Last week we described the main pillars of the Chilean pension system and how aspects of that model were ultimately copied around the world. Today we extend those lessons to pension reform in The Bahamas.
In 1981, influenced by the classical Chicago school of economics and the ideas of Milton Friedman, Chile became the first country in the world to fully privatize its national pension. In many ways, the Chilean pension-based development strategy can be viewed as an alternative to the East Asian model where national savings are generally captured by a government-controlled banking system, often at repressed interest rates and directed towards a massive export-oriented manufacturing sector. For countries with relatively sparse labor forces such as in Latin America and the Caribbean, such an export orientation is generally not feasible. Instead, long-term investment through private pension funds rather than state development banks can be a good option.
As its pension system matured, Chile gradually liberalized the AFP pension provider investment rules. When individual accounts were first introduced, investments were limited to government bonds, bank bonds and limited corporate bonds. Investments in equities and foreign investments were prohibited. By 1985, when the country's capital markets began to develop, the limit on government-issued instruments was lowered to 50 percent and AFPs could invest between 10 percent and 30 percent of assets in stocks. After 2002, AFPs were allowed to offer an aggressive Portfolio A with up to 80 percent in stocks. In the mid-1990s, foreign investment restrictions were eased, allowing up to six percent initially but increased to 30 percent in 2004 and 45 percent in 2008. These measures were made to allow AFPs to reduce the concentration in domestic instruments to lessen their impact as pension savings became a greater share of GDP. Increasing the foreign limit was also a way to potentially provide a higher rate of investment return.
As we mentioned last week, by the end of 2012, Chilean pension funds had approximately $164 billion in assets or the equivalent of 65 percent of GDP. The accumulation of these assets and their investment in financial markets has contributed massively to the development of Chilean capital markets. Pension funds optimized their allocation of resources to get the best combination of risk and return and have provided long-term development financing. This influence may have been most decisive in the housing market through the development of a private market for mortgage bonds. In 1996, almost 18 percent of pension fund assets were invested in mortgage instruments, equating to two out of every three houses purchased being financed by pension savings. AFPs must also purchase disability and life insurance in order to cover the risk of disability or death of the pensioner, leading to the development of a competitive insurance market and declining premium rates.
In the Caribbean, social security systems have been in place for close to 40 years in most countries, with our own National Insurance fund being established in 1974. Although most programs in the Caribbean are adequately funded for the short and medium term, almost all are financially unsustainable for the long term at current contribution rates and at the level of pensions promised.
While privatization of fund management in Chile was combined with individual choice of funds, this is not a necessary combination. A lower cost option could be to have a system where individual accounts are kept by the government, with shares earning their return from their portion of a single fund that was privately invested. In other words, a country can achieve privatization of fund management without having multiple fund choice options. In our context, such a structure would require the National Insurance Board to set an overall asset allocation for a single national fund and select private fund managers to actually manage those assets, free from political considerations.
In the Chilean example, they created a budget surplus to finance their transition to a privatized system. Would such a pension system be as successful if a country is instead running chronic deficits like in The Bahamas? With a large deficit there will be considerable political incentive to channel the privatized mandatory savings into government debt; National Insurance is already by far the largest investor in Bahamian Government Registered Stock (BGRS) with a holding of $660 million, according to the 2011 annual report. There will also be a strong desire to pay a lower interest rate on this debt in order to lower the deficit. The combination of primarily government debt and financially-repressed interest rates defeats much of the purpose of privatization, namely to broaden and deepen the capital markets and increase the investment return for the pension savers.
What should be the way forward?
In the wake of the 2008 crisis, some questioned whether leaving citizen's retirement at the mercy of the financial markets is the right thing for a government to do. In 2008, the value of Chilean pension assets crashed spectacularly along with global markets, experiencing average losses of one percent for the lowest risk funds to as much as 40 percent for the highest risk funds. These funds rebounded eight percent and 43 percent, respectively, in 2009. However, the fact remains that very few workers so far have been able to retire solely on their own AFP contribution, with 60 percent of all pension money still provided by the state under their various minimum guarantees.
In the Caribbean, a defined benefit and partial pay-as-you-go system combined with an individual account option seems to be an emerging solution. Rather than privatization, the focus has been to address the funding status directly through adjusting the contribution levels and/or gradually increasing the retirement age. After its 8th Actuarial Review, The Bahamas passed 22 amendments to the National Insurance Benefits and Contributions Regulations in 2010, which included raising total contributions (employee plus employer) to 9.8 percent, raising the level of the insurable wage ceiling from $400 to $500 a week and raising such ceiling bi-annually starting in July 2014 by an amount equal to inflation plus two percent. Pension benefits will also be increased to keep pace with inflation.
Thus far, there has been little regional appetite for a fully-privatized defined contribution system. Given their relative maturity, the unfunded liability that would be created at conversion to a privatized system would be huge. Moreover, if a switch to fully-funded defined contribution approach were made immediately, the amount of funds amassed would probably be too large for local financial markets to absorb, resulting in the money in all likelihood being used to finance government deficits or left sitting in the banking system. However, a move to adding an individual account component, outsourcing more of the portfolio management duties to home-grown Bahamian financial entrepreneurs, along with increased coverage of private pensions, will go a long way in improving the availability of risk capital and raising the level of investment talent in our country.
o CFAL is a sister company of The Nassau Guardian under the AF Holdings Ltd. umbrella. CFAL provides investment management, research, brokerage and pension services. For comments, please contact CFAL at: column@cfal.com.

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News Article
Court refuses to stay Farquharson contempt order

The Court of Appeal on Friday denied a request for an emergency stay of Justice Bernard Turner's decision that held attorney Geoffrey Farquharson in contempt.
Turner on June 4 fined Farquharson $2,000 for contemptuous remarks he made during the course of the Kofhe Goodman murder trial. He was given 21 days to pay the fine.
In refusing the application, the justices of appeal suggested that Farquharson pay the fine ahead of the deadline. They said the money would be refunded if he were successful on appeal.
Farquharson was found guilty of contempt of court on May 22 for his conduct during the trial, which ended on October 29, 2013, when Goodman was sentenced to death for the September 2011 murder of primary school student Marco Archer.
Justice Turner cited Farquharson for contempt in relation to remarks that he made on May 15, 2013 and July 18, 2013 that impugned the integrity of the court.
In sentencing, Turner said that he was compelled to punish Farquharson to spare another judge from the same behavior. He said that Farquharson was unrepentant in his behavior by maintaining that he acted properly.
On May 15, Farquharson said, "We are concerned that the apparent bias of the court may be tantamount to participation of the court wittingly or unwittingly to this perversion of justice. We say that what the prosecution has done is to fix this man up with a case, and that the court, by its actions, may well be viewed by a disinterested observer to be enabling that effort by the prosecution. If that is the case, my Lord, that would mean that there was a suggestion that the court itself may be guilty of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."
In July, Farquharson accused the court of "blatantly and flagrantly disregarding the law and making up the law on which it purports to act".
He added, "My Lord, I want the Bahamian people to know what is on going in their court, because I want them to know that the judge is ignoring the legislation. I want the jury and the country to understand what is going in the Supreme Court, my Lord, and you are trying to hide it from the jury, and you are trying to hide it from the public. And the prosecution is trying to hide it from the jury and the public, what they are doing in here. And what they are doing in here is grossly unfair and unlawful and you, My Lord, is enabling them."

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News Article
Activist: Gays should have right to marry

Human rights activist Erin Greene yesterday called the church a "special interest group" that should not prevent the government from carrying out its obligation to its citizens and their right to same-sex marriage.
"For the church to think that they can define the entire institution of marriage according to their rules is dangerous and I think legally it is wrong," said Greene, who appeared before the Constitutional Commission.
Greene said the state's obligation to its citizens is different from the church's obligation to its parishioners.
"I also think it is important to note that the church, in this jurisdiction, is a non-governmental institution. It is a special interest group.
"And so, while members of the religious community, within their rights, are expressing a desire for the state institution to be defined according to their laws, the state has an obligation to communicate to the church that these two institutions are separate.
"...The state has an obligation to me, to ensure that as a citizen, I have equitable access to the benefits that it offers.
"If the state is offering special benefits to married people, then it should not prevent me from getting married because I have a right to share in that benefit if I want to."
Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd recently recommended that the constitution be amended to reflect that no one be discriminated against based on sexual orientation. But he too is opposed to same-sex marriage.
When Grace Community Church pastor Rev. Dr. Rex Major appeared before the commission last month, he said the constitution should define marriage as being between a man and woman.
Several other religious leaders have made that recommendation.
Greene, a spokesperson of the now disbanded Rainbow Alliance, said members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community frequently suffer discrimination because Bahamians seem unable to delineate between professional standards and personnel beliefs.
Greene said explicit provisions in the constitution preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation would create an environment where behavioral change among Bahamians is more likely to occur.
However, she agreed with certain marriage restrictions, such as preventing minors from marrying without consent of their parents, which she called "a very good law".
Greene expressed concern that the commission's referendum exercise could become "impotent" if the process is not properly handled.
She said it appears to have come from the growing pressure of the international community, instead of local agitation and activism.
"If the conversation that we have with the public is not engaged in that context -- that while a referendum exercise is about the local expression of the citizens, this exercise, as we're engaged now, is also about our participation in a wider community -- this exercise cannot achieve our real goal," she said.
Greene said the country could achieve good governance if the laws are a true reflection of the community's feelings and lifestyles.
She said the constitution should be amended to remove all forms of discrimination against women; provide food security and guarantee freedom of information.

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News Article
Boys to men: A deficient rite of passage for the Bahamian male

o First published Wednesday, June 18, 2013.
In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father's Day a national holiday in the United States of America. The day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June and The Bahamas, like many other nations, has adopted this tradition.
The significant role of fathers in the national and social development cannot be emphasized enough. Moreover, the extremely pivotal part of fathers and fatherhood in the proper upbringing of children has never been more pronounced than in today's society. Fathers and father figures must continue to provide the unique nurturing necessary to help boys transition successfully into men.
Questions in today's society
Our society and indeed the world as a whole is plagued with so many woes that raise a myriad of questions and create conundrums in communities challenged by the degradation of the fabric of our moral values. Central to the heart of our societal evils and problems, it appears, is the void created by the absence of the revered guidance and discipline that fathers and the men of The Bahamas are known and respected for. Hence, the debate and queries persist as to the origin or genesis of this abdication of this divine duty to instruct and guide the next generation.
It is important that we take an introspective look and search out the answers to the silent questions that arise in our minds as crime continues to plague our society and our young people subconsciously seek help. Who will stand up and stand in the gap for our young men? Who will be their voice? Where are the fathers armed with the responsibility of nurturing and mentorship? Where are the upstanding men of society who are living a successful and prosperous life but fail to help our young men? Who dares to go into the communities and reach out to these young men and show care? The key word being 'care' - not for exploitation, gain or publicity, but out of genuine concern and care for their well-being.
Our young men are dropping out of school in droves; they are roaming through the streets while others sit on the blocks lamenting their travails and the cruelty of a society in which they feel like outlaws. While some refuse to seek legitimate gainful employment, others are unable to find jobs and pledge their allegiance to the 'street'. They say the streets have raised them and therefore they must be loyal to the streets. Truly this is a vexing issue that provides a challenge to the transition of boys to men.
Rites of passage
The phrase 'rite of passage' often speaks to an individual's transition from one status to another. In this regard, the transition to manhood in the case of boys is marked in some indigenous cultures in the form of a ritual. The essence of this ritual, which is often preceded by successful completion of certain prerequisites under the tutelage and guidance of older men, is the culmination of a period of teaching, mentoring, discipline and impartation of a sense of responsibility.
In our civilization, the responsibility to ensure the successful transition of our boys into good men falls upon each and every one of us and more specifically upon the fathers and older men of The Bahamas. There is no doubt that the family, communities, churches, the government, schools and civic organizations ought to make their contribution. We cannot assume that the other is doing their job and run the risk of no one executing their part. However, the men of today have a significant role to play in determining the future men produced by our country. Today's fathers and men in leadership roles must observe the actions of our young men that are killing one another and have by consequence declared war against themselves. Their actions appear to show unconsciously an aggressive and negative cry for help from the stronger in society - specifically fathers and older men.
It is often said that one cannot give what he or she does not have. How can a man without honor seek to raise an honorable young man knowing fully well that actions speak louder than words? Are today's fathers and leading men in society living a life worthy of respect and honor? The answer is a subjective one, but we must be true and honest with ourselves when answering. Respect for one's self and others is key to the promotion and attainment of peace and harmony in today's society.
Respect for women
We can only successfully tackle our social ills by returning to the basics and the principles that have worked for us as a society. In simple terms, we must teach our sons the common basics such as manners, etiquette, proper hygiene and a growing sense of respect for women.
We live in a society where infidelity, domestic violence, rape and other offenses against women are prevalent. We must return to the days when it was admirable to be a gentleman; a time when it was inappropriate for a male to touch a lady without her expressed permission or implied approval based only on a high level of familiarity. Young men must be taught to address ladies that they have no relations with, with respect, addressing them by their names and not "sweetie", "honey", "baby" and the likes. In today's enlightened and liberal society, there is a thin line between what constitutes sexual harassment and what does not.
The best gift fathers and men can give to boys as they transition from boyhood to manhood is to lead by example. Affection and loyalty shown by a man to his wife as an example go a long way. Men must master the art of conflict resolution and walking away from a fight, rather than fueling the same with violent retaliation. More importantly, morals and values - spiritual or otherwise - must be central to any rites of passage for boys.
Young men are the solution
Our young men must not be seen as the problem, but rather a solution to today's and tomorrow's problems. How can a problem solve a problem? Therefore, we must label them what we want them to be. The young men have strength, and we should utilize it. The old men with wisdom and understanding should use it to address the challenges of the young men by applying the knowledge they have acquired over time.
A salute to fathers
The transition from boyhood to manhood is rarely easy. Today we salute fathers who have taken their rightful place in society and have provided instruction to their biological, foster and adopted sons. Indeed it is their investments in the next generation that gives hope to our dear nation. Even though the celebration of Father's Day is officially over and the festivities have been completed, we honor the men of our country who have been responsible for the transition of our boys into good men.
The fathers and father figures must continue to teach our young men that their manhood is not defined by the level of bass in their voices, the number of female acquaintances they possess, the number of times they have been on the wrong side of the law or how much money they possess. They should know that a man is defined by his honor, dignified labor and integrity. All they need to do is emulate their fathers and they will be fine. Or will they? Happy belated Father's Day!
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to a.s.komolafe510@gmail.com.

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News Article
NUA Insurance targets 3,000 clients with cyber liability product

NUA Insurance Agents & Brokers is looking to target up to 3,000 clients following the launch of its cyber liability insurance coverage -- a product that offers businesses protection from cyber attacks and other online exposures, such as e-theft.
The company, which is the first to launch this type of coverage, held its launch at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel recently, where a cross section of the business and insurance community got an opportunity to learn more about the product.
The launch is timely given that National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage recently expressed concerns about cybercrime and announced his government's plan to strengthen the appropriate legislation.
NUA Assistant Managing Director Stanford Charlton said his company had been closely monitoring similar hacking and cyber attacks that are happening internationally and felt it was time to introduce the product to the Bahamian market.
Over the Christmas holiday, hackers stole the credit and debit card information of millions of Target's customers. The U.S. retailer is now facing a string of lawsuits over its data breach.
"We said if it can happen in Europe, Asia, the United States and other places, it's at our doorsteps. We need to take this thing seriously and bring it here. We follow closely what happens in the United States. Once the claims start to happen there, people will look at The Bahamas as an easy target, so we realized that we had to bring that insurance product here," said Charlton.
Charlton indicated that if a company's IT system is breached and its clients' personal information is accessed, it may face stiff fines or penalties under the Data Protection Act, in instances where adequate safeguards were not in place to prevent the breach. Cyber liability insurance gives cover for these fines.
NUA Managing Director Warren Rolle said since the launch NUA has gotten "quite a number of inquiries from a number of our competitors".
"So, we're pretty sure that they are going to follow suit at some point," he said.
Charlton explained that NUA's staff underwent extensive training over several weeks to become familiar with the product.
NUA later invited Charles Juarbe, divisional director of global insurance broker, FINEX Global & Willis Limited, to discuss the coverage during the launch.
Rolle indicated that there have been a number of sessions with Willis, including a recent online webinar, to acclimate staff to the new product. He said he is confident that NUA is ready for a successful launch of this product.
Charlton said NUA has gotten positive feedback ever since it announced plans to launch its newest product.
"I have been getting calls non-stop asking about cyber liability insurance and when I explain what it covers and what some of the ramifications of computer hacking are clients want to know more. This was a timely presentation and I hope it sensitizes the public to knowing and understanding that they need to get this insurance," he said.
"We are live with the facility, so, when clients call us we can give quotes within 20-25 minutes once they provide us with information on their turnover, the number of employees and what limits they want, they can get quotations back quickly."
Juarbe said his company decided to partner with NUA because the company has a "strong presence" in The Bahamas.
"They know their clientele, they know what they're looking for in terms of boots on the ground and they're going to know what their clients are looking for. At Willis we're very proud to have partnered with NUA in getting this facility done because people do need the protection . . . and as the minister said, the cyber threats are coming."
Juarbe advised companies who are dealing with their customers' sensitive data to be careful when selecting outside vendors.
"As a company, you have to ask yourself two questions -- one, are you managing the IT system and two, are you outsourcing that IT system. That's the difference. Sometimes you have a company like a restaurant, and you have the owner in the back but he's only just plugging information in, in terms of profits and sales, but who is providing that point of sale system or payment providing system? That's not going to be them, that's an outsourced vendor. Then what you need to do is question that outsource vendor: do you have the firewalls, the antivirus systems to make sure you're providing adequate coverage for me because even though the restaurant is going to get coverage, they also need to make sure that the outsource provider is providing them that same protection as well. People need to know the answer because the risks and the losses are real," he said.
Juarbe also noted that there is a minimum and maximum revenue requirement when it comes to securing cyber liability insurance with NUA.
"So, if your company is making $200 million in gross revenues and more than $30 million in net profit, obviously you'd be too big for the facility. But, that doesn't mean that you can't get coverage. What we could do is go to open market, access other markets to get quotations for you," he said.
"To be excluded from the cyber facility there'd have to be a risk that we'd have to say is beyond the regular small medium enterprise risk. There are some classes of business that will fall out obviously because of the higher risk that they have, such as financial institutions or hospitals or technology companies. But does that mean that we can't get them coverage? Absolutely not. We can get them coverage and we can get them whatever limit that they're looking for."
According to Charlton, the cost of the cover is dependent on the type of business, its annual turnover and the number of employees it has. Coverage ranges from $250,000 up to $2 million.
"Premiums are quite reasonable, $412 for $1 million coverage for certain companies," he said. "It's a quick process. We promise that you will be in and out as long as we have the right information," Charlton said.

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News Article
The aragonite hysteria

President of Sandy Cay Development Co. Limited Tony Myers told National Review that claims the company is making substantial sums of money from its aragonite operation at Ocean Cay are not true.
The Bahamas National Citizens Coalition, National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas President John Pinder and others have claimed that aragonite is selling for $900 per metric ton on the open market, but the government is only getting $2 per metric ton.
After he was contacted by National Review, Myers, a Bahamian businessman, said the unprocessed aragonite being shipped from Ocean Cay is being sold on average for $12 to $20 per metric ton.
We requested that he show us invoices to prove his statement.
Myers was off island when we made the invoice request this weekend. He electronically provided one invoice that shows a recent sale for $12.50 per metric ton and committed to providing us with additional invoices to show the company's prices.
He also told us the company has only had 16 export shipments since it started aragonite harvesting in 2010. He also provided National Review with documentation on those 16 shipments.
According to the documents provided to us, Sandy Cay has shipped 106,855.69 metric tons of aragonite since 2010 to various companies.
The government of The Bahamas has received $213,000 in royalties.
We admit our surprise that the shipment amount seemed so low.
Myers estimated that the resale cost of aragonite -- after his company sells to U.S. companies and they complete the refining process -- increases to around $75 per metric ton for the glass market and up to $400 per metric ton for the plastics market.
But he explained, "It takes a huge amount of labor, specialty equipment and electricity cost to take this mineral down to a size of three microns -- a very, very small particle size, basically the size of smoke.
"It is combined or coated with a chemical called stearic acid, and then it's moved into a compounding facility where it's combined with plastic resin, so there's a lot of costs that are added to it.
"So when you say oh, you're selling it for $900 a ton, or even if you were to realistically say you're selling it for $400 a ton, well, there's a tremendous amount of cost or value added that has been built into the material cost from when it's left the ocean at Ocean Cay to the time it actually meets that market."
The aragonite does not attract the estimated $400 per metric ton sale price at Ocean Cay because it is not refined there, he said.
We were also stunned to hear Myers say the company has not yet made a profit from the operation and pressed him repeatedly on why it has stayed in business.
Myers said Sandy Cay is now poised to make money from the operation, although competition for calcium carbonate is great.
We start with those statements in the context of all that is being said nationally now about aragonite and what we as Bahamians could earn from it.
Debate
Across The Bahamas, there is growing hysteria over aragonite, a naturally occurring unique carbonate mineral found in abundance in our ocean.
Commonly, it is known as sand and has widespread uses in various industries, including aggregate, agriculture, glass, power plant desulfurization, plastics, food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
We are told by a citizens coalition of union leaders, pastors and civic activists that Bahamians are being raped by developers mining our precious natural resources -- and that successive governments have signed sweetheart deals with investors ruthlessly scarring our environment to our detriment.
Those driving the discussion -- the Bahamas National Citizens Coalition and John Pinder -- tell us that, "From 1964 this outrageous exploitation of our resources has continually taken place with minimal benefits to The Bahamian people and exorbitant benefits to private citizens."
We are also told that if the government of The Bahamas negotiated the royalties we deserve, the government could pocket as much as $300 million per month. This renegotiation could wipe out our national debt, make us all prosperous and drive down our social woes, they tell us.
We have also heard that in 18 months, every Bahamian could have at least $50,000 in their bank accounts, if only the government would act in the interest of its citizens and do the right thing.
The voices of the union leaders and the other activists have been getting louder, as have the voices of many people calling into local talk shows and demanding the government take action to stop this "criminal act" against its people.
In all of this, we have barely heard the voices of our leaders in government and we have not heard the voices of those harvesting aragonite.
The debate has largely been driven by emotions.
So we set about getting the facts. In so doing, we approached the matter without any prejudice.
What struck us in our initial probe is that the Bahamas National Citizens Coalition, John Pinder, and others driving the hysteria are largely misinformed.
Admittedly, this is a complex matter and we ourselves still have a great deal of research to do. But from our initial digging, we have started to sort through the confusion and seek to provide a more reasoned, fact-based approach to the aragonite discussion.
The first thing we did was contact Sandy Cay Development Company Ltd., the company producing aragonite sand in the crystalline form "oolitic aragonite" at Ocean Cay, south of Bimini.
Our phone call was answered and Sandy Cay President Tony Myers agreed to a meeting with National Review to share with us what is taking place at Ocean Cay and provide us access to important figures on pricing and production.
We also read Sandy Cay's lease with the government of The Bahamas and discovered that some of the claims being made by the coalition are not true.
Despite the coalition's statement of "fact" that the royalties negotiated by the government is renewable every two years, we have seen nothing in the 25-year lease to suggest this.
So, despite all that we have been hearing, there is nothing coming up for renewal in June, or anytime soon.
Coalition Chairman Rev. Andrew Stewart admitted to National Review when we contacted him on Friday that the coalition has not seen the lease, has not contacted the investor, and based that statement of "fact" on what he called "an assumption".
This stunning admission casts doubt on everything we have heard so far from the coalition driving this debate.
This is not to say that the government should not step into this debate, provide clarification and lay out the facts for Bahamians dispassionately.
History
Ocean Cay, the 95-acre site of the country's only aragonite operation, is located nine miles south of Cat Cay, 27 miles south of Bimini and 65 miles east of Miami.
The cay was originally around 30 acres and built in the 1970s.
A popular Sports Illustrated article from 1970 that is currently making the rounds on social media said the Dillingham Corporation had "exclusive rights in four Bahamian areas totaling 8,235 square miles".
"In these areas there are about four billion cubic yards -- roughly 7.5 billion long tons -- of aragonite.
"At rock-bottom price the whole deposit is worth more than $15 billion. An experienced dredging company like Dillingham should be able to suck up 10 million tons a year, which will net the Bahamian government an annual royalty of about $600,000."
It said, "On the basis of such big, round figures, the mining of aragonite seems to be a bonanza operation. In reality, it is still a doubtful venture for both Dillingham and The Bahamas."
In 1984, Marcona Ocean Industries bought the operation and held it until 2000.
On March 27, 1992, then Minister of Works and Lands Philip Bethel signed a 21-year lease with Marcona. The royalty was between 14 cents and 30 cents per metric ton.
Marcona sold to three markets: glass, agriculture and power.
In 2000, the AES Corporation bought the lease, hoping to convince The Bahamas government to agree to the establishment of a liquefied natural gas facility there. Amid a great deal of controversy over LNG in The Bahamas, no approvals were granted and the company eventually packed up and left.
It sold to the current owner, Sandy Cay Development Co. Limited in 2009. According to Myers, it is 100 percent Bahamian owned. The previous companies were all foreign owned.
A letter dated June 3, 2010 written by Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister David Davis to Sandy Cay's lawyer, H. Campbell Cleare III advised that approval was granted for the company "to recommence its mining operations at Ocean Cay and to export aragonite from The Bahamas".
Davis advised, "For a period of two years commencing from the date of this letter the royalty payable to the government shall be $2 per metric ton, payable at the time of export from The Bahamas."
He also wrote that the island lease payment was $7,500 per annum.
Additionally, the letter advised that the company would be afforded duty exemption on the import of equipment required for its start-up operations as per the current lease. "However, this exemption will not be extended to consumables..."
The letter also mandated that the company provide the government with quarterly statements as to the amount of aragonite mined and exported and the destination of such exports.
Davis wrote, "This office stands ready to commence negotiations for the new lease, and in this regard, you are invited to prepare a first draft".
It seems the June 3, 2010 letter from Davis -- in the absence of a public release of the lease eventually negotiated -- has fueled this misinformation of a two-year renewal.
The government signed a lease with Sandy Cay on April 20, 2012. It provides for "an initial term of 25 years". It provides for "the right of renewal hereinafter".
The lease was backdated to June 3, 2010, the date when negotiations started for the new lease.
Myers explained to National Review that after he purchased the former lease from AES in 2009, the Ingraham administration had concerns about the purchase by a Bahamian company from a foreign firm.
He said the operation was placed on hold. It resumed the following year after Davis issued the letter advising Sandy Cay that it may recommence operations while the lease negotiations take place.
Royalty
The new lease signed with Sandy Cay provides for "a royalty computed as B$2 per ton for demised mineral exported from The Bahamas encompassing the first five years of the lease, after which the royalty shall be computed as 10 percent of the sales price, with a minimum fee of B$2 per ton up to a maximum fee of B$12 per ton for demised mineral exported from The Bahamas".
It also states that the rent for the lease is $7,500 per annum commencing June 3, 2010.
For years three to seven the lease payment is fixed at $8,250. It continues to rise up to years 23-25 where it is set at $11,250.
The lease provides for the government to have full access to Sandy Cay's books.
Understandably, the royalty issue has taken precedent in the raging aragonite debate.
In a document it prepared for the Ingraham government titled "Oolitic Aragonite Royalty Fee Analysis", Sandy Cay says, "The royalty fee rate should be less than the proposed B$2 per ton or for that matter far less than the new reference to in the media".
Further to this, Myers said, "There is no way that a rate of B$350 per ton or any other rate referred to in the media can be supported in the feasibility of this operation now or ever in the future."
The report states: "In fact, the proposed royalty rate of $2 already makes Ocean Cay uncompetitive with both U.S. manufacturers of sand and Freeport manufacturers of sand.
"Florida Sand Manufacturers: The royalty rate in Florida, where our main competitors operate from, is called a "tax on severance" as defined in the 2011 Florida Statutes under Section 211.31 and is currently eight percent of the sales value or about U.S.$ 0.72 per ton.
"Freeport Sand Manufacturers: The other main competitor for Ocean Cay is Martin Marietta in Freeport, Grand Bahama, who enjoys a full tax free and royalty free business environment under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. "This combined with the fact that Martin Marietta is one of the strongest aggregate producers in the U.S. makes Ocean Cay's position even more disadvantageous."
In that document to the former administration obtained by National Review, Sandy Cay proposed a royalty fee rate either in line with the original lease or no more than eight percent of the sales price (typical sales price is between $8 to $30 per ton; so, a royalty fee of between $0.64 and $2.40 per ton).
The report said, "The harvesting of aragonite through mining, followed by manufacturing, classifying, shipping and distribution, is a costly process which requires significant capital investment and a strong sales and marketing costs.
"Unlike any other mined mineral, aragonite is organic and classified by the USDA as a renewable resource, meaning that Ocean Cay is not depleting a natural resource of The Bahamas.
"According to scientific data combined with carbon analysis it is proven that aragonite is forming on a daily basis on the banks of The Bahamas. Ocean Cay is merely practicing underwater agriculture by harvesting the aragonite which is growing daily.
"We hope that you sincerely appreciate the costly investment we have made in this facility to produce one of the only green renewable minerals in the world. We sincerely need your support in making this project a success, consequently your understanding of our commitment and the costs associated with this is critical in making this a success for both Ocean Cay and The Bahamas."
Profit
Again, Myers said Sandy Cay has not and is not now making a profit.
So how has it been able to stay in business and why is it still in business?
Myers told us, "Through years of scientific and market research funded by us and the acceptance of independent public institutional research, we have now finally obtained global recognition and acceptance of ooilitic aragonite as a sustainable mineral.
"Major global companies like Procter and Gamble, McDonald's and Walmart are concerned over the environmental impact of the packaging of their products.
"The ecological concern has been a catalyst for their interest in oolitic aragonite.
"And all of these companies really recognize sustainability and the need for protecting our environment.
"The also recognize the fact that this mineral is unique in the fact that it is a major contributor to carbon sequestration from our environment.
"They love how the product fits into their global concerns, but it must be fairly priced and competitive within their respective markets."
Myers added, "They think oolitic aragonite is a great replacement to normal calcium carbonate because normal calcium carbonate also uses this market, but this is much better.
"It's not damaging the environment. It's being regenerated every year and they have to show to their consumers...that they're interested in cleaning up the environment. They're interested in using ecologically sound materials."
Myers believes Sandy Cay in the future will turn a profit.
"We hope that this will generate into a business whereby we're able to sell more into the plastics market and we are slowly making some very good inroads," he told National Review.
"We've made some small steps toward a successful business, and The Bahamas will be recognized for this contribution in a fair and equitable market driven manner.
"The Bahamian people and our company shall in due course reap the rewards of the hard efforts of our governments in developing this resource."

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