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News Article

May 05, 2014
DPM: Two firms in running for BEC reform

The government has narrowed the number of potential companies that submitted proposals for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) restructuring deal down to two, according to Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis.
In March, it was reported that accounting firm KPMG had made recommendations and given the government an assessment of all bidders.
However, it remained unclear how many bidders had been forwarded to Cabinet for consideration.
Davis, whose portfolio includes BEC, said in a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian that he hopes to reach a decision on the matter before the government begins debate on the new budget.
The government is expected to begin debate on the 2014/2015 budget at the end of this month.
However, Davis said, "We are not going to rush to that decision."
On March 30, Davis said negotiations had been completed.
He said at the time, that Cabinet was expected to deliberate on the bidders and "know whether the government has accepted any of the options" within two weeks.
Davis previously said the government may not select any of the bidders.
He has also suggested that the government may only engage one company to assist reforming the energy sector.
Asked whether the two companies before Cabinet is any indication of the government's intentions, Davis did not respond directly.
"That proposition is still under consideration, whether we go with one or two," he said on Wednesday.
It also remains unclear whether BEC will remain unified or be split into two companies as originally indicated.
Some observers have said the deal and reform process is four months overdue.
Last August, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed the government's plans to engage private companies to offer power generation for BEC and gain a management contract to take over transmission, distribution and customer billing.
At the time, Christie said the contract with prospective companies would be signed by the end of last year.
Both Davis and Christie have pledged that the deal will be transparent, amid criticisms from the Free National Movement and Democratic National Alliance about the transparency of the deal.
Davis has promised that government will consult the public before any decision is made.
"The word transparency is a political appendage that one seeks to pull out of the hat whenever there is need for attention, that's what I see," he said in March.
"I mean at the end of the day, the Bahamian people will be fully informed about what is happening and has happened and the timeline."

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News Article

August 15, 2011
Two CIBC First Caribbean Sponsored JA Firms Win 'Company of the Year' Awards

TWO Junior Achievement companies sponsored by CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank were announced as winners of the coveted JA Company of the Year award.

FirstCaribbean managing director Marie Rodland-Allen said: "The winnings of our JA teams in Nassau and Abaco, and the bank's continued support of JA, are excellent testaments of the bank's engagement of communities in which it operates with a view of making them better.

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News Article

April 17, 2013
Leadership Pays Big Dividends for Small Firms

The Bahamas - The importance of leadership is critical for Fortune 500 companies, but a financial leader asserted leadership is crucial for the "Less Fortunate 5,000" small- and medium-sized companies. In fact, many owners of SMEs, stated financial guru Zhivargo Laing, "rely more on their leadership...

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News Article
Mixed views on Nottage's call for 'cash for gold' firms to close
June 20, 2013
Mixed views on Nottage's call for 'cash for gold' firms to close

A local jewelry store owner is throwing his support behind National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage's desire to shut down "cash for gold" enterprises, however, one local operator is calling it unfair and noted it would undoubtedly hurt Bahamians.
The owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told Guardian Business that his business has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue and more than 50 percent of his employees have been robbed for their gold jewelry.
"People are stealing jewelry and taking it to cash for gold businesses. My staff is terrified. They've been accosted on jitneys on their way to work and their jewelry has been stolen. It is a national problem and it's very difficult as a business owner because everyone has the right to operate a legitimate business," the owner said.
"I see chains getting ripped off tourists on Bay Street. It's happening throughout the island. It has touched almost everyone in this nation in a negative way.
"The loss to my business has been great, hundreds of thousands of dollars. I have not worn a piece of gold jewelry in two years. We have 33 employees. More than 50 percent of my employees have been affected by it. I have never seen one thing touch such a large number of people."
During his contribution to the 2013/2014 budget debate, Dr. Nottage said many "cash for gold" operators are not living up to their responsibilities as outlined in the legislation governing the industry.
"There are lots of crime associated with gold, with people snatching gold chains, with people breaking into homes and taking jewelry," he pointed out .
However, Nottage's comments are not sitting well with the president of Gold Rush Bahamas, who said it would only put a dent in the jewelry buying business and also hurt the Bahamian people.
Gold Rush Bahamas has three locations: Robinson Road East, Zion Boulevard off East Street South and Farrington Road and employs 10 people.
"We service a lot of clients that have problems financially. It is definitely hard times out there. We have hardworking customers that come in and they need funds. We also provide cash loans that are short-term and people do not necessarily want to part with their jewelry. It would definitely put a cramp in the jewelry buying industry and hurt the Bahamian people also," shared the operator, who wished to use his name.
"Right now, we currently employ 10 people with the three locations that we have. That means that 10 people will be without a job."
He defended that the 'cash for gold' business, calling it a "worldwide" business. The operator told Guardian Business that it is not fair to punish all business owners for the few that may not have complied with the regulations for the industry set out by the government.
"We actually get our prices on what we pay out from the New York Stock Exchange. I personally do not think that the closure of cash for gold will stop anything as it pertains to jewelry theft or robberies. We have a system implemented that came down directly from the authorities, the police said we must take government-issued IDs," according to the operator.
"All of these things are put in place for us to protect ourselves but maybe there are some of the smaller companies who take jewelry without the proper identification."
In fact, the operator believes that if 'cash for gold' businesses are forced to shut down, it could lead to an "underground market" being formed.
"If someone can't cash in The Bahamas, then you would force an underground market just like with drugs now. Drugs are illegal so what happens is you have things that happen underground like the numbers industry. You cause an increase in crime rather than eradicating the problem," he added.
The Pawnbrokers and Second-Hand Dealers Act 2011 imposes upon a business owner or dealers the duty and responsibility to verify the identity of customers, maintain records and keep certain items in an unaltered state for specified periods.
The bill also empowers a police officer, acting on reasonable suspicion, to enter a dealer's premises and request the production of all articles in possession of that dealer for inspection, and request the production of copies of records are to be kept by the dealer.

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News Article

February 23, 2011
Baha Mar choses local firms for events

Two Bahamian owned and operated destination management companies (DMCs) and a number of Bahamian subcontractors staged the recent Baha?Mar groundbreaking ceremony and celebratory dinner, which cost in access of $250,000.
The celebratory dinner was held on the evening of February 21, and the groundbreaking event was held the following day. The project has been billed by developers as perhaps the largest of its kind currently in process anywhere in the world.

Sarkis Izmirlian, Baha Mar chairman and CEO, said to the media after the groundbreaking event on Monday that it is businesses like the two DMCs and the various Bahamian subcontractors hired for the events, that he hoped would benefit f ...

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News Article

January 27, 2011
Freeport firms suffer 30-60 sales declines

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

With major Freeport businesses and wholesalers having suffered year-over-year top-line sales reductions of between 30-60 per cent for January, a leading attorney told Tribune Business that central government pressure meant that "the rule of law and governance under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement has nearly complete collapsed".

Fred Smith QC, the Callenders & Co attorney and partner, warned that various government initiatives, such as Customs' demand for a National Insurance Board (NIB) Letter of Good Standing before bonded letters were renewed, were in danger of "throwing the baby out with the bath water" and "could easily k ...

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News Article

July 27, 2012
Firms need systems to prevent fraud and abuse, says consultant

Companies lose an average of five percent of their annual revenue due to occupational fraud and abuse, according to a recent survey released by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).
Marlon Cooper, managing director at Symptai Consulting Ltd., addressed the importance of businesses having certain systems in place to ensure they don't suffer such revenue losses, during a seminar yesterday at the British Colonial Hilton.
"Often times, persons within a company use their positions to destroy the company one way or the other. They abuse processes and systems, so the company are faced with those losses," he explained.
"That's completely different from those additional losses where external persons or entities also attempt to defraud a company or to get monies or services out of a company and then not pay for those services."
Cooper addressed seminar attendees on the topic "Delivering Business Value through Continued Monitoring".
"We are trying to educate the Bahamian market about how you can continuously monitor the controls within your business processes, to ensure that the business does not suffer money leakage, revenue loss and is not susceptible to fraudulent activities that may be as a result of overpayment, or payment of things that should not have occurred. We are trying to educate the public that technology is available and being used here in The Bahamas," Cooper noted.
Cooper pointed out how the National Insurance Board (NIB) is one of the major entities locally that has put a system in place to combat these issues in regards to the unemployment benefit fund.
"In addition to that, they wanted to ensure that they are able to deliver on their promise to make long-term and short-term benefit payments, and also that the contributions payments that are set to come in, come in a timely manner," he said.
With the Caseware Solution system, Cooper shared that there is a tight system of accountability.
"It monitors regular business processes, whether you are looking for duplicates of payments, your payroll process or you want to make sure that only persons who were employed are being paid."

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News Article

December 17, 2010
Major 'mindset' change coming for local firms

Bahamian businessmen will have to undergo a fundamental "mindset" change when this nation accedes to full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership, this nation's chief negotiator believes, investigating new opportunities and learning the rules themselves rather than relying on the Government to do it for them.

Such a 'culture shock' will be many of the major adjustments for the Bahamian private sector, Raymond Winder, the Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas) managing partner, told Tribune Business, pointing out that by joining the WTO and signing on to other trade agreements, such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), this natio ...

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News Article

August 22, 2011
100 Bahamian firms hired for Baha Mar

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

"Close to" 100 Bahamian companies have been engaged on $100 million worth of contracts awarded on Baha Mar's $2.6 billion Cable Beach expansion, a senior executive yesterday saying the project was "on target" to achieve its projected economic impacts.

Robert Sands, Baha Mar's senior vice-president for external and governmental affairs, told Tribune Business that some 1,060 Bahamians had been employed on the Baha Mar project to date as Phase One construction moved to a close.

The "first coat of paint" was being placed on the bank and government buildings comprising Baha Mar's Commercial Village, Mr Sands said, with ...

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