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This column was first published on July 20, 2010
At a recent service marking his demission from office, the head of a prominent denomination offered the heated view that the Bahamian economy desperately needs to be diversified.
He proclaimed that he had advised successive governments of this need, but that his advice went unheeded. Unfortunately, the religious head seems as expert in economics as Donald Trump may be in theology.
His is the latest example of a public figure who should know better than repeating the wearying and inaccurate conventional wisdom regarding the actual nature and level of diversification of the Bahamian economy.
This same ignorance continues to bubble to the surface by those running around panicking like the fabled Henny Penny that the sky is falling in terms of the supposed dire threat of Cuba to the Bahamian tourism industry.
One of the accompanying arguments is that because of the apparent normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States that The Bahamas had best quickly pivot from tourism and diversify into other industries.
This view reflects a failure to grasp economics, including the economics of tourism. It is also stunningly ignorant of Bahamian history. Whether or not you believe Sir Stafford Sands should be on the $10 bill, he's there for a reason.
Sir Stafford understood the cycle of boom and bust that haunted The Bahamas for centuries with the rise and fall of industries - including wrecking. Then in the 1930s the Bahamian economy collapsed with the end of Prohibition in 1933 and the devastation of the sponging industry by a marine disease in 1938.
To diversify the economy, Sir Stafford and others concluded that a year-round tourism industry would stabilize the Bahamian economy, assigning the cycle of boom and bust to the history books. This historic achievement was also made possible by taking advantage of technologies from the jetliner to air conditioning. Way before all of the 21st century talk of globalization and service-based economies, the Bahamas was on the cutting-edge in the mid-20th century.
Despite many downturns, including the Great Depression of the last century and the current severe global economic crisis, the Bahamian economy is generally healthy. Tourism has made our economy quite resilient, the envy of many countries, including our Caribbean neighbors. This resilience has been boosted by the country's diversification into financial services and other industries.
The success rate of commodity production and export in The Bahamas is mixed. Sponging collapsed, as did peanut farming in Andros, sugar in Abaco, pineapples in Eleuthera, onions in Exuma and sisal in various islands. Had these survived, they collectively would not have generated the level of economic activity and employment of tourism. Incidentally, after many years, Bacardi ended rum production in The Bahamas.
The distributive and sustainable power of tourism is more enduring than many other industries. The Caribbean has learned this lesson - painfully so - from the instability of bauxite in Jamaica to sugar and bananas throughout the region.
An alphabet soup of self-interests masquerading as free traders have dealt serious blows to the economies of the Caribbean: From the EU and the USA on bananas, NAFTA in terms of textiles, and the OECD on financial services. Yet, tourism has generally survived hurricanes manufactured by humans and nature.
Meanwhile, the former religious head, who clearly does not understand economics, should pause and recall that most of the money offered up for collection - comes from tourism. Those who preach of justice should consider: Many of the demands for social and distributive justice they seek, may be been best achieved by tourism.
Undoubtedly, there is still much to be done to better spread the economic and related benefits of tourism. Yet, on balance, tourism makes good economic and ethical sense. And the country continues to make progress in terms of greater Bahamian ownership of the industry. One area of great promise is the multimillion dollar heritage tourism sector.
Still, many are blind to the facts staring them in the face, with the fact of diversification seemingly of little consequence. This includes, among other examples, The Bahamas serving as a major financial services centre and hosting a major transshipment center as well as the world's largest cruise ship repair facility.
The Bahamas boasts one of the largest ship registration centers in the world, and continues to boost its maritime services industry. The country now hosts the annual Bahamas International Maritime Conference and Trade Show to promote the ongoing development of and diversification within this industry.
Lest we forget, Grand Bahama was also home to an oil refinery, BORCO, and Syntex, a pharmaceutical company. The near full employment of Inagua powered by salt, and Spanish Wells by fisheries, also seems to elude the notice of those who have conveniently forgotten that aragonite was mined in Bimini and that The Bahamas has had boat-building and straw-work industries.
Still, tourism will remain our main industry for the foreseeable future, for many good reasons. With less than 400,000 people our best bet is as a service-based economy.
We will never be a power in agriculture, fisheries or manufacturing, though we can successfully enter into niche markets in these and other areas. Moreover, these industries can only employ so many Bahamians.
But we can leverage our small population, stability and strategic location to punch way above our weight in tourism, financial and maritime services, international arbitration, offshore educational services and other industries.
Despite tourism's exposure to external threats, we have more control over protecting tourism than any other industry. Our challenge is ongoing diversification within tourism, while promoting linkages between other industries and our main industry.
Asked his thoughts on a world energy crisis, the American architect and futurist, Buckminster Fuller pressed: "There is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance." In many ways, the so-called long-term economic crisis some see in The Bahamas related to tourism is a crisis of ignorance and imagination.
The task for the 21st century Bahamas is to eschew an ignorance of our economic history while replacing ignorance over what is possible for the economy. That ignorance can be overcome with the sort of imagination which prompted Sir Stafford Sands and others to recognize that in many ways tourism and The Bahamas were made for each another.
The current Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, understands our current historic challenge. He has the imagination and experience to extend Sir Stafford's vision even further than the man who has been dubbed as the "Father of Tourism".
While Sir Stafford knew that tourism would create mass employment, he did not envision ownership of various elements of this industry by black Bahamians. Mr. Vanderpool Wallace understands the power of tourism to create employment, wealth and considerable opportunities for all Bahamians.
But to leverage these opportunities the Minister understands that the country has to invest in critical infrastructure. This infrastructure is needed for innovation within and the ongoing diversification of our main industry.
He knows that there are at least three 'Ts' that the country needs to improve: transportation networks, technology and training inclusive of our schools and retraining programs for adults.
From better utilization of the internet, to making travel through the country more seamless for tourists from booking to actual journey, to better educating ourselves, our challenges are clear, urgent and possible.
Moreover, the question today is not the sustainability and possibilities within the tourism industry. The question is whether we have the imagination and will to transform the industry to take greater advantage of these possibilities in a sustainable manner.
Colina Holdings Bahamas Limited (CHBL) ended 2011 in a "strong financial position", with the company reporting a net income of $5.6 million and $550 million on its balance sheet at the year's end.
In a press release issued last night, the company noted that financial results released by the board of directors of CHBL reveal that the company ended 2011 with "considerable financial strength" and remains"in solid fiscal standing"despite the current economic challenges and the"extraordinary impact"of the reduction in the Bahamian prime rate.
In its statement, CHBL said its net income was affected by decreased individual life sales volumes in 2011 relative to the company's banner year in 2010, as the continued effects of the depressed economic environment reduced discretionary income for a number of clients.
In spite of this, the company achieved a net income of$5.6 million at December 31, 2011. Total comprehensive income was similarly moderated, closing at $5.9 million.
Total equity stood at $119.7 million and exceeded solvency requirements set out in the Insurance (General) Regulations, 2010, which CHBL said is a testament to its conservative investment strategy and balance sheet management.
CHBL's balance sheet continues to be a distinctive advantage, exceeding half a billion dollars for the first time in 2010 and growing to$550 million at the end of 2011, the company added.
The majority of this asset growth was as a result of the company's strategy to direct investment funds towards fixed income securities during the year. The focus on fixed income securities has resulted in an overall increase in net investment income, as returns over these security instruments were significantly less volatile than returns experienced in equities over 2011.
"Results reflected positive growth in key financial indicators including net income, shareholder equity and gross revenue for the first three months of the year," said CHBL Chairman Terence Hilts. "Second quarter results for the company were notably impacted by a reduction in the Bahamian prime rate, which required long-term insurers like Colina to increase its actuarial reserves to support future policy benefits.
"Given the expected significance of these reserve changes, Colina's actuaries and consulting actuaries worked closely to assess the impact of the change and reflected the effects of the prime rate adjustment within the company's second quarter financial statements, which resulted in reduced total net income and investment earnings at the close of the first half of the year. However, the company was in the unique position to withstand these changes in the economic landscape, providing fully for this extraordinary change in actuarial reserves in its second quarter results and sustaining profitability through the third and fourth quarters.
"Colina's strong capital reserve base and diversified product mix provided the company the flexibility to implement a number of mitigating measures, to compensate for the changes in the policyholder reserves to withstand fluctuations in net income," Hilts said.
Gross premium revenues were generally flat against prior year, totaling $132.1 million for the 12 months ended December 31, 2011 compared to $131.8 million in 2010, the company said.
General and administrative expenses remained at approximately 22.5 percent of gross premium revenues, reflecting management's careful actions to ensure that expenditure remains focused on those activities considered necessary to provide the level of service that its policyholders have come to anticipate.
"While not unmindful of the challenging economic times we are operating in, the board remains confident that the company will be able to meet the challenges and opportunities of the coming year," said Hilts. "The company's strategy to further leverage its position as the largest provider of life and health insurance and related financial planning products in The Bahamas, with a view to expansion outside these borders, provides it with a clear avenue to deliver sustained, profitable growth. I am confident that management has the skills, energy and ambition to capitalize on the many growth opportunities that lie before the company," he noted.
It crept like a spider, softly climbing up our back. Suddenly, it appeared in front of our eyes: big and black with venomous fangs poised to strike. This was how it felt to suddenly, out of the blue, be told that a foreign multinational company had been given the right to explore, drill and own oil in The Bahamas. The Bahamian public was not forewarned. There were no public meetings or discourse. So, how could we be blamed for thinking it was of little import and "no big deal"? Well, I'm here to tell my fellow Bahamians that the ownership of Bahamian oil by any foreign multinational company is of huge importance and consequence to Bahamians now and in the future.
Private oil prospecting is nothing new. It has been pursued tirelessly across the globe for the last century, since the price of oil made it akin to "black gold". However, in recent times private prospecting has slowed because the majority of countries are now aware of their right to own their oil and no longer desire private interference. It seems that The Bahamas has been caught sleeping at the wheel. A main reason for the excitement behind private oil exploration here is that the foreign prospectors believe us to be ignorant of what the rest of the world already knows: that nobody allows private ownership of oil anymore.
While pursuing a Masters in International Comparative Business Law in London, I studied multinational enterprises (a company that has multiple nationalities) and their contractual interactions with governments, within the principles of International Law. According to International Law, all countries are sovereign and a law unto themselves.
As a sovereign state, they have the right to nationalize private industries within their borders. Nationalization means to convert from private to governmental ownership and control. Historically, many nations that used foreign companies to explore for and extract oil later nationalized the private oil companies on behalf of their citizens, who they considered to have been exploited by the private oil companies.
Which countries have nationalized their oil?
Almost every oil producing country has nationalized its oil. A study by consulting firm PFC Energy found that only seven percent of the world's oil reserves are in countries which allow private international companies to own the oil. Whereas, 65 percent of the world's oil reserves are completely government owned. Why should The Bahamas join the dwindling seven percent?
If we look at Norway, which nationalized its oil in 1972, just two years after foreign companies began exploring for oil off its coast, we can see a productive example of nationalization. With the proceeds of nationalized oil, Norway provided multiple welfare services for its citizens, such as free education, healthcare and pensions. A little closer to home, our Caribbean neighbor, Trinidad, nationalized its oil industry in the 1970s and 80s. At its peak, oil and gas accounted for 40 percent of Trinidad's GDP and more than 90 percent of its exports.
OPEC, which stands for Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is an organization of countries that nationalized their oil production from foreign multinational companies. Its members include: Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
Why nationalize oil now?
Some may argue that The Bahamas should wait until oil is struck, before it contemplates nationalizing its oil industry. Let the foreign company do all the difficult, technical work and then take over. However, this is an ill advised strategy for several reasons. Firstly, nationalization has a terrible impact on foreign relations. Because The Bahamas is a tourist destination, any attempt to nationalize oil could be seem as a threat by tourist exporting nations, possibly leading to sanctions on tourism. In other words, nationalization, once the train has left the station, is looked upon as somewhat underhanded and akin to stealing. For this reason, it is shunned by the international community. One need only look to the recent outcry from Spain and the United States against Argentina's attempt to nationalize a Spanish oil company to see the impact of nationalization on foreign relations.
Another reason to nationalize now is due to the high price of oil. The leverage of oil producing nations as to how their oil is extracted and exported to the international community is at an all time high. Should Cuba, The Bahamas' immediate neighbor, strike oil, The Bahamas' leverage would increase 100 fold. The Bahamas would have the leverage to borrow funds for exploration and call the shots with regard to any partnership or royalty agreement.
A further reason is that nationalization, once oil is discovered, will be very, very costly. Right now, the worth of The Bahamas oil industry is negligible, because oil has yet to be found. Once oil is located, the value of the foreign company that discovers it will skyrocket. International law posits that in order to nationalize foreign owned property, a country must pay compensation at an appropriate and equitable rate. The Bahamas would not be able to "legally" nationalize its oil industry, without first paying a very hefty fee.
Are solutions other than nationalization available to The Bahamas? Yes. In order to grasp the options available, The Bahamas should bring in a consultant to determine its leverage and strategy options for pursuing oil negotiations and exploration. I trained under Dr. Charles Chatterje, who is an expert adviser to countries working with multinational enterprises; he would be an excellent choice for consultation.
Much of the plan to drill for oil in The Bahamas hinges on the finding of oil in Cuba. Before The Bahamas renews any lease with a foreign company, it should wait and see if oil is located in Cuba. Cuba is currently in the process of drilling for oil and results as to oil findings are expected within the next few months.
Should oil be located in Cuba, other than completely nationalizing the industry, The Bahamas could require for 50 percent of the foreign company to be owned by The Bahamas government. At the very least, The Bahamas should renegotiate any contracts it has signed and increase its royalties to 50 percent, as the royalties currently asked for are low by industry standards.
It is hard to imagine how The Bahamas placed itself in this unenviable position. At a time when the price of oil is at an all time high and Cuba is about to discover oil on The Bahamas' doorstep, it has agreed to allow a foreign multinational company to exploit its oil for a small royalty share of the profits. It's not rocket science that if Cuba strikes oil, The Bahamas will strike oil also. It is abundantly clear that privatization of natural resources, such as oil, are a thing of the past, an antiquity of the colonial era. The true asset being exploited by multinationals in The Bahamas is not our oil, but our ignorance.
The parliamentary bell has rung and the date for election has been set. As expected, the excitement that comes with the season is coming to a boil, but religious ministers are urging people to not allow their judgement to be clouded over the next few weeks leading up to Monday, May 7 when they go to the polls to cast their vote.
Pastor Jay Simms, senior pastor at Christian Life Church says election season is not the time to be divided and warring with one another. He said that no matter what is going on in society, all professing Christians need to put God first and foremost in their lives.
"It disturbs me that every election season politics divides families and churches. As a person I strongly believe that everyone has a right to vote for whomever they want, and their decision should not divide their homes or ruin relationships. At the end of the day, the season will end and you still have to go about your daily life. Therefore, no matter what, all Christians should continue to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul, seek first the kingdom of God and of course love their neighbor as themselves."
Pastor Simms said after all is said and done, a group of people will rise as the new leaders of the country and no matter which side of the fence people are on, as Christians, he said it is their duty to pray for their leadership so that it will be fair, just and productive.
The non-denominational church leader said putting God in the backseat during this period is the worst thing professing Christians can do. And that cutting God out of the equation and not praying for guidance and protection can lead the country further astray. He said the most important thing for Christians to be doing at this time is binding together, no matter their political views to pray for the country's safe passage during this period and the rising up of the best people to run the nation.
"When it comes to politicians, particularly those who are professing Christians, it is all too important for them to remember that they are children of God first and then citizens of the country and political leaders second. Therefore, they should represent God in their walk and talk first, then to their respective parties," he said.
The Christian Life Church pastor said that too few politicians stick to their convictions during election season, and let party decisions take precedence over doing what they know is right. But it's a decision he said should never happen because although they may be called to lead, they should not let themselves be blinded into losing their integrity.
"I hope that all leaders use this season not just for political leverage, but to let their light shine so men can see their good works and glorify the heavenly father. Whatever is done in this season it should be done in love of God and fellow man. That's the bottom line."
Abundant Life Bible Church co-pastor, Gil Maycock, warns politicians to be careful in all that they do. Whether they profess Christianity or not, he said they should be wary of how they campaign and represent themselves and the opposing candidates. The minister says it is irresponsible for political candidates to cause unnecessary discord in the population simply for their own agenda.
"In this heated season, politicians should be extremely cautious of how they choose to run their campaigns. They should not let themselves get caught up in the political season and the rush that comes with it, and forget that they have to consider the nation first and foremost," said Pastor Maycock. "If they are to govern this nation they have to be responsible in campaign messages to ensure that in no way shape or form, by innuendo or anything else, that they do not stir up violence among the people. We are a religious people, so we are called to love and believe in the Christian message. So it should be remembered that this is not the season to destroy one another. This is a season to love."
The pastor urges politicians to stick with issues rather than personal attacks. He said they should always be putting others first, finding feasible and honest ways to solve issues and know that at the end of the day, whether they get in office or not, they still have a duty to uphold their integrity and serve the nation wholeheartedly.
"Our Bahamian people, we need to take advantage of this God-given privilege and vote for the person that best represents them - not just the party. I think we all should mature to the point that we want the best for constituencies and not get caught up in party politics."
Pastor Maycock said all Bahamians should pray for a peaceful election and for God to rise up the person he wishes to be in power. He said Christians should also be praying that whoever is elected will do what is right for everyone.
Pastor Leonard Johnson, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh Day Adventists said Christians should respect the rights of others around them. He said God has given man the spirit of choice - and to live in discord because their brother does not share their views is not in accordance with God's law.
"Christians should be using this time to evaluate the best people for the job and making their own personal choices on how they will vote. It is a personal decision that they must make in your own heart. Do not feel slighted when someone else has another view because it is not your right to force others to feel the way you do," said the pastor. "You, as a Christian, can only pray for the best result at the end of the day. God will rise leaders up and take them down accordingly and Christians should not be taking it upon themselves to fight a battle that God has control of."
Pastor Johnson said Christians should show respect for an individual who may have a different view or opinion, and that people have a right to think differently. He said they should use their time instead to pray for the people of the nation so that they would exercise a sense of reason, tolerance and understanding.
"I don't know if all politicians are Christians, but whether or not they are, they need to be mindful to offer themselves in the right way to vie for leadership in this country," said Pastor Johnson. "They should demonstrate a high level of respect for one another, and they should speak to issues that concern the Bahamian people and the nation - particularly the future, as opposed to attacking an individual or their character. We should be operating at a high level since we claim to be a religious people. I also hope that politicians respect the outcome of what is to come and learn to support whichever leader is in power whether it is in their favor or not."
New Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson has already met with his tripartite staff.
He has thus been afforded much information from those arms based on the respective vantage points. The bulk of the work ahead for him rests within the sports sector of his ministry. Now, he has to get with the heads of federations, commissions and boards. They are all part of the inner workings of the national sports program. They are indeed the mechanisms that play a major collective role in the functioning of the Bahamian sports system.
It would be best for him to get the full perspective of all parties involved. The sports minister from the outset is rightly speaking of what needs to happen, going forward in the Bahamian sports industry. He is strong on the tourism aspect. Sports tourism could be much bigger, generating more dividends. I like his enthusiasm in this area and hope he will be a driving force, mobilizing his sports officials to connect with peers in the Ministry of Tourism, to maximize sports tourism for the country.
There are other challenges for Minister Johnson. A recent Guardian sports lead quoted Dr. Johnson thusly: "We know we have about 400 young men and women who want to play baseball and softball. That is going to happen. We are in the process of now going to build a new baseball stadium. We have to finish off the grounds around the present stadium. We have a master plan for facilities."
The baseball matter is a delicate one. I support his deep interest in baseball. This country can recapture its past reputation in baseball. There was a time when we produced professional baseball players at a rate comparable to countries like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Now those Latin countries have left The Bahamas in the dust.
The Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) has the leverage to sort out the impasse between the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) and the Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF). It is the BOC that can bring the sport under a central umbrella. If this happens, the potential would be triple what it is now. I like Dr. Johnson's zeal, but with baseball he needs the BOC to take the initiative.
This is one of the challenges he faces. The sporting organizations operate independent of any governmental intrusion. Dr. Johnson will have to find that nucleus that can best assist him in this regard. Dr. Johnson is looking also, as he should, at all the other sporting disciplines. It is a tall order he faces.
The task is a complex one, complicated, involved, intricate, hard, time-consuming, demanding and will test the mettle of the man.
oEnd of two-part series. To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org
HAMILTON, Bermuda - The Bahamas picked up three medals on Easter Sunday morning of the 41st CARIFTA Track and Field Championships in Hamilton, Bermuda.
Drexel Maycock picked up his second medal of the championships as he tossed the discus 45.35 meters (m) - 148' 9-1/2" to win the silver medal in the under-17 boys division. The Bahamas also added bronze medals in the under-20 girls javelin courtesy of Alexandria Paul, and the under-20 boys pole vault courtesy of Tre Adderley.
For Maycock, he was significantly off his personal best of 53m (173' 10-1/2"), which would have been good enough for the gold medal, but he was happy that he was able to win a medal for The Bahamas.
"I don't feel too good about that performance because I know I could have done much better," said Maycock. "I'm happy with the silver medal but not the distance. I just kept planting my foot wrong today and I couldn't push off like I wanted to.
"Every time I throw, I learn something new so I just have to go home now and practice staying in the circle. I'll bounce back," he added.
In that same event, Bahamian Dencil Pratt finished fifth with a best throw of 42.96m (140' 11-1/4"). Trinidadian Kenejah Williams won the gold medal with a distance of 50.36m (165' 2-3/4"), Maycock was strong enough to get the silver, and Jamaican Shamar Kitson held off his teammate Demar Gayle for the bronze medal, with a best toss of 44.34m (145' 5-3/4"), compared to 44.20m (145' 0-1/4") for Gayle. As for Pratt, he has a personal best throw of 48m (157' 5-3/4").
"I'm a lil disappointed because I didn't throw as well as I could have. I wasn't getting as much leverage as I could have and I think that held me back a bit," he said.
Alexandria Marshall competed in the under-20 girls javelin for The Bahamas, and came away with the bronze medal with a toss of 32.62m (107' 0-1/4"). Alexie Alais from French Guiana won that event with a grand throw of 47.17m (154' 9"), Sandrine Mezen from Martinique won the silver medal with a best heave of 44.56m (146' 2-1/4"), and Paul came away with the bronze medal.
"I didn't throw my best but I thank God for the medal," said Paul who has a personal best of 37.93m (124' 5-1/4"). "I had to warm up in the beginning because it was very chilly but I adjusted. I think that The Bahamas is doing very well and I'm proud of all my teammates. We came here to 'Whap', and so far we're doing that," she added.
Paul and the rest of the BTC Team Bahamas adopted the term 'Whap' heading into the 41st CARIFTA Championships. Acronym for 'We having a Party', it caught on among the Bahamian faithful in Bermuda as the phrase 'whap, whap' was often chanted by athletes and the supporters whether it be in the stands, during competition or out on the streets.
The only other medal for Team Bahamas on Easter Sunday morning came via Tre Adderley in the under-20 boys pole vault. Adderley, who was competing in his third CARIFTA Championships, leapt 3.45m (11' 3-3/4") for the bronze medal.
"I just went out there and did my best for my country, and came out with the bronze medal. It feels real good," said Adderley. "The conditions were better than yesterday, but the competition was pretty stiff. I just went out there and focused on what I needed to do.
"I think that we as a country really need to step up and develop our field events. We're doing very well in the sprints but we're not up there in the distance and the field events. Hopefully, we can put it together for the rest of the meet," he added.
Jamaican Xavier Boland won the gold medal in that event with a jump of 4.40m (14' 5-1/4") and Shem Edward of St. Lucia won the silver medal with a height of 4.05m (13' 3-1/2").
The chilly weather conditions in Hamilton, Bermuda hampered the Bahamian athletes during competition, but for the most part, the athletes appeared to be adjusting and were turning some fantastic performances on the track and in the field.
Blagojevich gets 14 years in prison for corruption.
CHICAGO (AP) -- Rod Blagojevich, the ousted Illinois governor whose three-year battle against criminal charges became a national spectacle, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday, one of the stiffest penalties imposed for corruption in a state with a history of crooked politics.
Blagojevich's 18 convictions included allegations of trying to leverage his power to appoint someone to President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat to raise campaign cash or land a high-paying job.
The chairman of KPMG International is no stranger to the power of Chinese investment.
With his head office in Hong Kong, Michael Andrew, leading one of the four biggest accountant firms in the world, plans to double the size of his Chinese workforce within four years.
From America to Africa, he has seen the global impact of China's surging economy.
But on his first trip to The Bahamas, Andrew, an avid cricket fan, was excited about more than finding the nearest pitch. The top executive, in town for the 2012 TOG Partners' Conference, was impressed by the mounting influence of the Asian superpower in this modest archipelago.
"I must admit it was a revelation to learn of the size and scale of Chinese investment this week," Andrew said. "China likes to invest in countries where they feel welcome, where they can work with the local regulators and local business people. There is a cluster mentality. Once you get one Chinese investor talking a good story, then the others tend to follow."
The critique certainly tells the story in The Bahamas.
Baha Mar, a $2.6 billion mega resort now under construction in Nassau, is being built by China Construction America and financed by the state-owned Export-Import Bank of China. A number of other Chinese-led projects have emerged over the last year or so, including a $41 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of China to build a port in Abaco and the construction of a national stadium that cost tens of millions of dollars.
The latter, according to the local government, was a gift by the People's Republic of China to The Bahamas.
This close relationship, and indeed China's involvement in the Caribbean at large, is now on the mind of KPMG's global chairman.
In fact, as a financial services hub, he sees "explosive growth" if the country, and similar jurisdictions, becomes a trailblazer for Renminbi denominated securities.
"I think you're about to see the emergence of another sovereign currency tradable around the world in five or 10 years," he told Guardian Business. "It's interesting, when you look at Singapore, Hong Kong and even London, they are all starting to gear up for Renminbi securities and shares. I think there will be explosive growth for those countries that can put in a regulatory regime and a settlement regime."
The KPMG chairman said that The Bahamas can take advantage of many opportunities through its ongoing relationship with China. While their skill is often in large-scale infrastructure, chiefly because they have the design, execution and funding capacity to pull it off, Andrew anticipates that Chinese banks will no doubt "follow" the path previously traveled.
The emerging superpower continues to liberalize its financial system. And as banks grow increasingly international, "you'll see Chinese banks become much more active on the global scene, but they'll do it in a very targeted and strategic way".
As a financial center, Andrew feels The Bahamas has made strides through its regulatory framework. The country is in a position to compete and be on the cutting edge. What The Bahamas needs to do, however, is advertise.
"I don't think it's very well known outside of The Bahamas on what progress has been made. I'm not sure all the foreign investors and funds fully comprehend the sophistication here in The Bahamas," he explained.
Between its Chinese links and close proximity to the emerging markets of Latin America, The Bahamas needs to think big, think differently, and look to alternative fund industry right at its back door.
Andrew, who is now approaching a year as chairman of KPMG International, said if there is one thing he has learned, it's the profound shift from West to the East, and North to the South.
It's up to The Bahamas, and indeed other jurisdictions like it, to wake up to this reality.
"I don't think people fully understand or comprehend the scale of what is taking place," Andrew added. "It is almost unprecedented in history that you are seeing now more GDP in emerging countries than in developed countries. These are countries that have no leverage and no debt. So their capacity to continue to grow and respond is impressive. They have increased their educational standards dramatically. I think the world will never be the same going forward."
Scotiabank (Bahamas) Limited plans to launch its Carmichael Road branch by next monday, part of a $8.2 million capital project expenditure for 2012.
The 4,100-square-foot bank, nestled in one of the capital's fastest-growing communities, will be consistent with the look and style of the Cable Beach branch. While an official grand opening is expected in January, Scotiabank (Bahamas) has scheduled the "soft launch" for this coming Monday.
Kevin Teslyk, managing director at Scotiabank (Bahamas), said that $1.3 million was invested into the new facility and it created 10 new jobs.
"It is very clear to me that it's a location we need to have, as the fastest-growing residential community. Clearly it is a place we want to be," he said yesterday.
The branch features extended banking hours and three new automated banking machines.
This level of capital expenditure should continue into 2013, according to the managing director. He envisioned a similar budget for next year and even further expansion to the bank's network.
The institution is considering another location in eastern New Providence, although executives have decided to wait for the right location.
In 2012, Scotiabank (Bahamas) invested considerably in large-scale real estate projects, such as foundational work on buildings beside Rawson Square. Investment in upgrades to existing infrastructure and signage is expected to continue into 2013.
Looking at 2012 from a bottom-line perspective, Teslyk told Guardian Business that commercial banking and wealth management should drive growth going forward. Other segments, such as retail banking, should remain "relatively flat". Scotiabank (Bahamas) expects a year-on-year improvement for 2012, which is mostly the result of high provisions in 2011 against the residential mortgage portfolio. Provisions decreased this year, but are still trending higher than prior to the financial crisis.
The global wealth management division has really been the hero for the financial institution. This segment, only in its third year of existence in the Bahamian market, saw an increase of around 20 percent year-on-year.
"We can sustain that or better, hitting perhaps north of 20 percent next year," he explained.
The bank is investing in new talent for this division and going after attractive clients. Teslyk noted that offshore banking is still "critically important", whether it be financing for a second home, or helping a client start an international business.
Part of the bank's strategy is to hold the line before what is believed to be a possible change in fortune by early 2015, coinciding with the opening of the $3.5 billion Baha Mar resort.
"The bulk of jobs will come online then and that will impact the general economy. It should be pretty significant. Getting there will be the next challenge," according to the managing director.
Another particular area of focus in 2013 is the "rebirth" of its Internet platform. While a new website should come online this week, the bank hopes to leverage the new platform go to after new business. The new look and feel is designed to perform differently depending on the device being used, adapting to tablets, smartphones or standard computers.
Further announcements are expected in 2013 on new programs for its commercial division as it relates to the Internet platform.
Bank of The Bahamas (BOB), for example, recently started an e-commerce program. Whether Scotiabank has similar ideas for The Bahamas remains to be seen.
Kingston, Jamaica; Jamaica and the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival will once again receive another boost as Flow leverages its broadband technology and partnership with international content provider HBO to help create multiple avenues for exposure.
With the partnership with HBO, viewers across the Caribbean and Latin America will be treated to another Special feature showcasing Jamaica and the 2012 Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, a repeat of the highly successful initiative that was such a key element of the previous year's festival.
Flow's technology will also facilitate live streaming to various countries across the globe, OnDemand programmes on its Flow OnDemand platform, and a local feature on Flow TV...