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News Article

July 20, 2011
Bahamas Striping using job govt program to grow market share

One small business comparing itself to David is out for the Goliath of its sector, looking to the National Job Readiness and Training Programme (NJRP) to load its sling with trained young Bahamians.

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News Article

May 19, 2014
'Timing and market right' for China financial services push

The country's most significant push to date into the Chinese market will be spearheaded later this year by representatives from the country's financial services sector, a move which seeks to capitalize on a view that the "timing and the market are right" for The Bahamas to tap into Chinese demand for asset diversification.
Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder suggested that the decision by the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and the Ministry of Financial Services to attend and participate in the China Offshore Summit as 'platinum' sponsors will generate critical exposure for the country.
"The event will be held in October in Beijing, and there will also be country-specific events in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It will allow us to be able to, in a very meaningful way, enter and develop the Chinese financial services sector for The Bahamas, leveraging cooperation from the private sector here," said the minister.
"Certainly the opening of Baha Mar in December is key timing with respect to our investment in China, to be able to leverage the opening and marketing of Baha Mar and work with some of our key partners here who have significant Asian business, and we have the full cooperation of the Chinese embassy here."
Pinder said that while The Bahamas has engaged in the sponsorship of such conferences in the past in China,
the timing of the conference and the level at which the country will participate as a sponsor are expected to be more instrumental in generating business for this nation.
"We think the timing is right; the market is maturing over there in terms of the demand for the international diversification of assets. Coming to office there had been some investment the BFSB had been doing in China; they'd sponsored in the past but not as a platinum sponsor, they'd done light marketing. I have a belief that you either go or don't go, and spreading yourself wide with limited resources doesn't work well.
"We'd made a concerted effort to go to Brazil to market ourselves there and that proved to be a successful strategy. Now we believe the timing is right now with all the activity going on between the Chinese and The Bahamas to focus our resources there," said Pinder.
"We're certainly looking to attract clients to our institutions, to attract high-net-worth individuals who would like to use The Bahamas to access the markets in this hemisphere. We've also had a long-term goal of attracting Chinese investment to use The Bahamas as a hub for trade financing, and so we'll look to advance that too,"he added.

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News Article

April 12, 2012
Joyous Easter Sunday for The Bahamas

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.

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News Article

October 09, 2011
BTC: Up to 8 MBps broadband by Christmas

Come Christmas, New Providence and Grand Bahama residents will be able to access mobile broadband speeds of up to 8 Megabytes per second (MBps) for post-paid service and 2 MBps for pre-paid service, according to the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).
In a media update six months into operations at the "new" BTC, its chief executive officer Geoff Houston said the company is "well on track" for a pre-Christmas launch of its 4G service in the two larger markets.  He added that a roll-out to the balance of the Family Islands should be completed within 18 months.
Houston said the enhanced buying power BTC now enjoys through its Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) parentage is allowing significant savings - the price tag for the cutting edge 4G network to come in, is at $42.8 million over the next few years according to Houston.
"We know that we have been able to buy new networks significantly cheaper.  The [4G] mobile network is at least 35 to 40 percent cheaper," Houston said, adding that the company is now able to secure global pricing.

"On other capital programs, the rule of thumb is a 35 to 40 percent savings on capital programs, generally speaking."
The BTC CEO said the company was leveraging its new spending capacity in other areas, with "significant" spend reductions in operating costs with its regional and global suppliers as well.  The company's new mobile hand-set range, for example, was secured at the price LIME - CWC's Caribbean brand - was able to secure.  It made those handsets 'a little cheaper' compared to the prices BTC was able to achieve before tapping into CWC's buying power.
"In terms of dollar savings this financial year from our procurement sales it is definitely in excess of $10 million," said Houston.
The previous half-year has also seen BTC move to optimize a substantial portion of its existing network.  While the company did not move to invest heavily into it, Houston said time was invested in improving the quality of service, for example ensuring less dropped calls.  Five new cellular cites were also added to the existing network to help meet capacity demands, he said.
The changes may be behind improved usage of the network, according to Houston.
"What we can say actually is that as a result of some of these changes, we have seen nearly a 10 percent increase in our traffic on the network which indicates to us that we are starting to solve some principal problems but at the same time, we have a less-than-perfect situation at the moment,' he said.
The old network will be 'completely ripped-out' and replaced with the new mobile network, Houston said.
The company was not able to make any representations as to how its future 4G network or other services will be priced, not wishing to run afoul of the Utilities Regulations and Communications Authority (URCA) procedures governing pricing and communication of intended price changes.
With 4G service coming on stream, tourists with smartphones and similar technology may also seek out BTC's services.  Houston reported that the company was anticipating a 'significant pickup' in demand from visitors, particularly for its 4G service.  It is one of the reasons underlying BTC's plans for an enhanced and expanded retail presence.
The Company is aiming to add at least 50 new retail stores over the next year.  While 16 to 18 of them are expected to be BTC-owned, the others are planned for ownership by entrepreneurs.
The CEO is billing the new retail focus as a "significant" change in the organization, and BTC is aiming to increase its customers' access to its services and products through visible 'points-of-presence' throughout The Bahamas.
Marlon Johnson, BTC's vice president of marketing, sales and business development, said that much of the details of the new retail operation will be informed by the market and its needs.  For example, an entrepreneur with a store-front at a remote family island location may incorporate BTC into their operations in a store-in-a-store format.
"The important thing is accessibility that makes sense," Johnson said.
Houston concluded that BTC should continue to return profitability for its shareholders by the end of its fiscal year in March.  He noted that BTC's parent company was "very pleased" with its performance thus far.

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News Article

April 12, 2013
Bahamas Social Media Bootcamp invites US Consultant

Crystal Washington

Nassau, Bahamas - Entrepreneurs, corporate
workers, sales people, businessmen, small business owners, churches, and
individuals will convene at The Sheraton Beach Resort for the first
ever Social Media Bootcamp on May 30th & 31st. According to a survey
conducted last December, the average American spends almost 61/2 hours
on social media. These workshops are designed to help participants
leverage the time spent using social media.

 

President and CEO of
The Publicity Agency (Bahamas), Miranda Inniss said "With the
increasing popularity of Social Media globally and its impact on our
personal and professional lives, this is an ideal time to introduce the
Bootcamp to the community. As an entrepreneur, I understand the
challenges business owners face in engaging customers and maintaining
profitability. The Social Media Bootcamp will offer participants
opportunities to use social media effectively to help grow their
business."

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News Article

October 30, 2012
Bahamas affirms commitments to CARIFORUM

Today the trade liberalization commitments made by the Government of The Bahamas in the areas of trade in services and investment were formally incorporated into the Economic Partnership Agreement between CARIFORUM and the European Union (EPA). The Ministerial Joint Council of the EPA, the highest decision making body under the EPA, made the decision to incorporate the commitments. The decision formalizes agreements reached between The Bahamas and the European Union in 2010.
Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder, who has responsibility for international trade, advised that though the decision by the Joint Council was procedural, in the sense that it memorialized the understanding reached in 2010, the event of The Bahamas' investment and services commitments being incorporated into the EPA is of considerable weight and importance in the nation's history of trade liberalization and regional integration.
In the context of The Bahamas being a services-based economy and its current bid to accede to the WTO, the minister noted that a liberalized services regime will be the platform from which The Bahamas will become fully integrated into the global marketplace. The Bahamas will leverage its expertise in the area of services to become a world leader in this economic sector.
The investment and services commitments will now be provisionally applied pursuant to the provisions of the EPA.

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News Article

February 28, 2012
Small business development

Dear Editor,
 
After my organization hosted the first Small Business Summit in 2009, it was evident that The Bahamas needed a national strategic plan for the development of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  However, our country for 38 years, has had a flaw for not developing a practical strategic national plan for anything (crime, economic development, immigration, etc.).
Industry leaders from the professional and medical services; manufacturing, agriculture, fisheries, wholesale merchandising and retail; construction, tourism, hospitality, commercial banks and government indicated during the 2009 Small Business Summit that an Act to developed the SME sector was far overdue.
As a result, a report was developed to identify how this SME could be formulated and implemented in an effective and efficient manner.  This report, Act As One: The Importance of Stakeholders' Collaborative Efforts When Developing the Small Business Act of The Bahamas, can be viewed at http://www.markturnquestconsulting.com/Entrepreneurship.html.  After consulting with the government, I applaud the Ministry of Finance team for creating the political will to develop the Bahamas SME Development Act and to create a new strategic framework to enhance the productivity level of the sector.
However, there were too many questionable decisions in 2010 on how to perform infrastructural development (mainly the road improvement works) and what formula of tax increases to apply on import duties.  I hope that these two decisions will not reduce the effectiveness of the SME Development Act in the future.  In 2010, the main focus to stimulate the SME sector should have been to provide incentives and concessions to mitigate the impact of the recession. There was a small window of opportunity to 'stop the bleeding' and it was not taken advantage of; hence, I witnessed hundreds of SME failures and the death of many entrepreneurial dreams.  Governments must realize that sometimes negative effects of policy decisions without proper consultations are sometimes irreversible.
My main concern with the formulation process so far is that there has been limited participation by the Act's main stakeholders - SMEs.  If this had occurred, then the $7,500 Jump Start Program (grant funding) would not have been given a green light. The grant is not enough and other sources of funding are required by local and international financial institutions to be pooled together to benefit new and existing SMEs.
Other concerns are as follows:
o There should be town meetings with the wider SME community in order to gather information about the major problems and opportunities facing the sector;
o In addition, there needs to be more industry-specific (construction, agriculture, merchandising, hospitality, manufacturing, technical services, tourism, hospitality, fashion design, etc.) discussions, so that local and international issues that affect individual industries could be addressed in the Act.
The formulation process of the SME Development Act needs to be evaluated and corrective measures should take place.  I am aware that there were consultations with the Inter-American Development Bank, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation and a few others, but this is not an effective way to develop such an important Act.  There needs to be 'inter-stakeholder synergy'; this means that more trade organizations, banks, industry leaders and especially SME owners should be involved in the formulation process before the Act is debated in Parliament.
This inter-stakeholder synergy between the government, NGOs, trade associations, financial institutions, industry leaders and SME owners would align resources and capabilities to craft a SME Act that is meaningful to the sector.  Although this Act should not precede a strategic national plan for SME development, it is a good start because our SME sector is lagging behind in competitiveness, globally.
The main policies that must be adapted by key stakeholders when diligently transforming the Act from formulation to implementation are as follows:
 
Government
I. Ensure that possible amalgamation of Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corporation (BAIC), Bahamas Development Bank and Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund focuses on leveraging the strengths and correcting the weaknesses of the organizations;
II. The new SME development framework that is being developed must be structured to eliminate financial and non-financial decision making based on political influences.  This is the main reason why the Bahamas Development Bank is near bankruptcy;
III. Focus on Family Island development but keep the natural heritage and cultural resources of each island;
IV. Reduce the barriers that make it almost impossible for SMEs to access international funding;
V. Promote and encourage e-commerce activities and remove policies that make opening on-line merchant accounts very difficult;
VI. Adapt public policy tools to SME needs - especially facilitating SME participation in the public procurement process;
VII. Consider creating a Ministry or Department of Commerce to protect the SME sector from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and to develop strategies to improve on its five percent contribution to gross domestic product.
 
Commercial banks
I. Partner with government and international leading institutions to develop comprehensive SME funding scheme (SFS) so that more financial support can be extended to SMEs;
II. The $7,500 grant that is currently being offered to a few SMEs by the government could be used as a down payment so that local and international banks, and private investors could give more meaningful funding in order to prevent business failure due to undercapitalization;
III. Focus on packaging loans extended to SMEs that have built-in accounting management, human resources and marketing support programs at an affordable cost for at least a year.
 
The Bahamas Chamber Of Commerce and Employers Confederation
I. Focus on providing new SMEs with more market information about various industries.  The organization should partner with the College of The Bahamas and the Inter-American Development Bank to perform more market research on the economy of The Bahamas;
II. Become more visible in the SME market (over-the-hill) and remove the perception that the organization only focuses on big businesses;
III. Encourage professional and trade associations and SMEs to become more knowledgeable about the pros and cons of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
 
SMEs
I. SMEs must be committed to acting in a socially responsible manner (paying business licenses, NIB, correct custom duties, etc.);
II. SMEs must become knowledgeable about all aspects of their business model (operations, marketing, accounting/finance, human resources, etc.);
III. All SMEs must have sound marketing, management, human resource and accounting systems.  SMEs must invest in the Quickbooks Accounting Software; it is an invaluable tool for businesses.
 
The Bahamian consumer
At the heart of the new Act, there should be the conviction that achieving the best possible framework conditions for SMEs depends first and foremost on society's recognition of entrepreneurs.
Bahamian consumers must support the implementation of the new Act and SME framework to buy authentic Bahamian made products and discourage criminal activities that would negatively affect local SMEs.  The Bahamian consumers should understand that vibrant SMEs will make The Bahamas more robust to stand against the uncertainty of business cycles (especially recessions and depressions).
Finally, framers of the initial draft of the Act must consider the following important matters:
I. Ensure that presidents of trade and professionals associations clearly identify problems that their members are experiencing from local regulations and international competitors;
II. Build in major incentives in the Act for entrepreneurial ventures that create innovative products, delivery systems, operational structures and marketing strategies in filmmaking, fashion design, e-commerce, information technology, agriculture, manufacturing, education, software development, art and handicraft;
III. Create added concessions to protect 'socially responsible' SMEs that employ over 25 Bahamians during future recessions;
IV. Provide special assistance to local SMEs that focuses highly on exporting authentic Bahamian products and creative services;
V. Provide regulatory policies to protect the management consultancy sector from unfair and unethical practices that are performed by international service providers.
I hope that the initial draft of SME Development Act is brought to the business community.  The government must host a series of town meetings and workshops so that all aspects of this Act could be diligently crafted.  My advice to the government is not to dilute the process, but have adequate consultation with SME owners and not to force this Act down the throats of SME owners.  The government must understand that this is an important Act and not to delay communicating the contents of it to SMEs throughout The Bahamas.
In addition, members of Parliament must become more involved in the formulation of the Act.  They should immediately host meetings and obtain information about the challenges and other issues that SMEs are experiencing in their constituencies.  This is important so that they (MPs) can have intellectual debates when discussing this Act in the House of Assembly.
I would like for SMEs to contact me so that we can ensure that this Act is diligently formulated and implemented.  To contact me call 326-6748/427-3640 or log on to www.markturnquestconsulting.com.
 
- Mark A. Turnquest

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News Article

December 30, 2011
Sheldon's Picks

WEEK 16: 12-4
SEASON: 157-83

NFL WEEK 17
SUNDAY'S GAMES
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles 1 p.m.
Even though they are officially eliminated from the playoffs, the Eagles have been playing inspired football lately. Michael Vick and company are determined to finish the season strong. I think that both Vick and Lasean McCoy will have over 100 yards on the ground in this game.
Eagles 27, Redskins 17

N.Y. Jets at Miami Dolphins

1 p.m.
The Fins would love nothing more than to officially end the Jets' playoff hopes. Even with a win, the Jets wouldn't be guaranteed of a playoff spot. I think they'll struggle in South Beach on Sunday though. Led by Reggie Bush, the Fins are productive on the offensive end, and ever since week nine, their defense has been consistently shutting down teams.
Dolphins 30, Jets 23

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints 1 p.m.
The Saints are still alive for a first-round bye so I think that they won't ease up on the Panthers this week. Cam Newton and the Panthers have proven over the past two weeks that they don't intend to go quietly but the Saints are on a different level right now, especially in the Superdome. I think that Brees will go over 100 yards again, and the Saints will continue to roll.
Saints 34, Panthers 30

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers 1 p.m.
Now that they have that one loss out of their system, the Packers will continue to cruise into the playoffs. Despite a few minor injuries, the Pack is ready for the post-season and ready to defend their title. The Lions have already wrapped up a playoff spot as well, so I don't expect them to lay it all out on the line this Sunday.
Packers 37, Lions 27

San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams 1 p.m.
Led by their defense, the Niners are surging at the right time of the year. They are still battling the Saints for a first-round bye heading into the final game of the season. Meanwhile, the Rams are battling the Colts for the first overall pick. Both will have things work in their favor on Sunday.
49ers 20, Rams 6

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars 1 p.m.
Don't look now, but the Colts are on a two-game winning streak. Will they make it three in a row... only time will tell. I believe the Colts will play hard this Sunday though, and go into Jacksonville and leave with a victory.
Colts 20, Jaguars 17

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots 1 p.m.
The Bills got a big win over the Broncos last week, but they'll have to deal with the AFC East division leaders this week. Not to mention, the Pats are still looking for revenge after falling to the Bills early in the season. Tom Brady and company will have a field day this Sunday.
Patriots 42, Bills 20

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans 1 p.m.
This game will feature two of the better running backs in the league. Whoever has the better day will probably lead his team to victory. I think that Chris Johnson and the Titans will get the job done. The Titans is the more desperate team and the Texans have struggled in their past two games.
Titans 20, Texans 19

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings 1 p.m.
Despite not recording much wins, Christian Ponder is proving that he is the right man for the job in Minnesota. He should be their starting quarterback next season, and hopefully they'll have a healthy Adrian Peterson in the backfield. The Vikings always play the Bears tough, and this game will be no different.
Vikings 28, Bears 20

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns 4:15 p.m.
The Steelers are still trying to win the AFC North, so I don't expect them to come out and roll over against the Browns. There's no doubt that the Browns will try to end their season strong, but they're simply not on the same level as the Steelers right now. The 'Steel Curtain' defense will dictate the pace of this game.
Steelers 23, Browns 6

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos 4:15 p.m.
Will Tebow mania rise again? The Broncos have cooled down a bit after that six-game winning streak but they are still very much alive in the playoff race. A win this Sunday will lock down the AFC West and the number four seed in the playoffs for them. The Chiefs won't just give the game to the Broncos, but I think that Tebow will rise again and lead his team to victory.
Broncos 16, Chiefs 13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons 4:15 p.m.
The Falcons are trying to fine tune themselves going into the playoffs while the Bucs have pretty much packed it in and are calling it a season. I think that these teams will continue to go in opposite directions on Sunday.
Falcons 27, Buccaneers 13

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals 4:15 p.m.
This game could be a preview of what's to come in the playoffs. They could very well meet again. The Ravens play great at home but are subpar on the road. The Bengals, who along with the Niners, are the surprise of the league this year, will be looking to prove that they can compete with the Ravens. I think that it will be a physical, grueling contest, and the Bengals will have just enough to come out on top.
Bengals 23, Ravens 20

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals 4:15 p.m.
Both of these teams turned it on in the second half of the season, but it was too little too late for both of them. They were both eliminated from the playoffs last week. I think that Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks will come out on top this Sunday though. They came within an eyelash of knocking off the Niners last week, and will have enough in the tank to get past the Cards this week.
Seahawks 24, Cardinals 20

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders 4:15 p.m.
The Raiders have a division title within sight but will have to get through the Chargers this Sunday. I don't think they'll be able to get into the playoffs, but I think they'll get past the Chargers this week. The Chargers have been sporadic all season. They'll play hard on Sunday against their division rivals but they'll be hard pressed to stop the Raiders.
Raiders 27, Chargers 24

Dallas Cowboys at N.Y. Giants 8:20 p.m.
Game of the Week! The Cowboys and G-men meet in 'The Big Apple' on Sunday with the AFC East title and a playoff spot on the line. The last time these two teams got together, Tony Romo and the 'Boys blew a 15-point lead in the final quarter. They won't have that leverage this week, as the Giants will take control of this game early. Eli Manning and company will book their tickers for the playoffs and it will be another disappointing end to a season for the Cowboys.
Giants 30, Cowboys 17

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News Article

February 21, 2014
The Caribbean church coming out of the closet on homosexuality

Valued theologian-therapist Dr. Lazarus Castang's response to my article is a treasure (The unbridgeable moral divide between the Caribbean church and homosexuals). It represents a clarity that is both concise and thorough. I see a rare pastoral willingness to jump out of the closet of internal church talk into the burning bush of public discourse.
This attitude elaborates a thoughtful view of subjecting the chaos of human sexuality under the ideal of faith. By uncovering a powerful vernacular located within a broad and deep knowledge of the Caribbean Christian tradition, Castang does not assume his faith. He chooses to wrestle with the morality of homosexuality so that we can see an ancient truth through new lens. Four concerns rivet my attention.
First, Castang stays clear of religious polemics. Although he conveys that the Caribbean church is morally committed to a heterosexual norm, he demonstrates that the distinction between law and religious practice is not sufficient to encourage a humane culture within the Caribbean. I couldn't agree more. My judgment is that the insistence on the truth of doctrine going up against the majesty of individual choice and civil obligations will not automatically produce ethical restraint within a culture that resists an exclusive morality.
Second, his critique that I left uninvestigated the impact that homosexuals have had on the Caribbean state and church is fair. I could have more fully explored how the openness of homosexual lifestyle has invaded our rigid morality about the role and function of human sexuality, while expanding our culture to live with diversity through an anthropology of wholeness. Further, I could have underscored the possibility of advocacy for a more inclusive democratic civilization that homosexuality has evoked. These effects deserve finer articulation.
Third, he opines that homosexuals must be prepared to bear the moral burden of Caribbean culture that frowns on their sexual practices. This keen observation, however, does not erase the manifestations of mental, spiritual and psychological anguish the church inflicts on homosexuals in its sincere efforts to condemn the sin and affirm the sinner. The church's uncompromising moral stance has far-reaching consequences. It shapes and informs wider communal behavior toward homosexuals, which often breeds callous practices, all of which fall outside a Christian love ethic that screams for justice.
Therefore, the church cannot merely acknowledge this problem with deliberate speed. If it is going to pragmatically merge its spiritual intelligence with this social dilemma, a transformative attitude towards homosexuals within Caribbean societies should produce a more genuine Christian disposition as well as a more just society.
Fourth, Castang is fully aware of the focus to make sexual choices in our pluralistic society realizable but affirms that the Caribbean church must act in accordance with the discernible heterosexual order of creation that Genesis explains, even though our fallen nature has put us at odds with the ideal of human sexuality.
My question to Castang is this: What do we do with this moral schism that is too wide for any bridge? If this is the case, then the church would have to abandon its efforts to employ the power of God to deliver people from sexual behaviors that it condemns.
I understand that the Caribbean's conservative morality is on display in a churning progressive political culture, and that clashes around issues of personal liberty and equality will occur. Yet, I believe that the Caribbean church should construct an ethical bridge where private virtue and public conscience form the matrix for doing good, bearing witness to the truth, and eliminating stereotyping in order to preserve the common good.
If not, the church will find itself trapped in an irony where the qualms of social conscience arise in the most intimate of human relations but the principles of Christian love become ineffective to these challenges.
If any movement is to be made in this moral standoff, either the church admits defeat or takes some risks. These risks should both affirm the gospel of Jesus Christ and respect the efficacy of a diverse society and, consequently, the humanity of homosexuals.
It strengthens Christian beliefs in the Caribbean to know that a pastoral voice could leverage the tensions between faith and feelings with sensitivity.
Castang offers conscientious citizens enough room to breathe, albeit without a sigh of relief. As an act of redemptive love, this may be a time to combat every injustice that paralyzes human life from within the sacred space of the church.
Even if his voice does not reform society, Castang's view can become an agency of the Kingdom of God for preserving one's integrity. An honest enthusiasm for resolving these tensions is superior to a disconnected existence. Still, the tragic limitations or sublime beauty of sexual tolerance in the Caribbean is dismantling.

o Dr. Isaac Newton is an international leadership and change management consultant and political adviser who specializes in government and business relations, and sustainable development projects. Newton works extensively in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, and is a graduate of Oakwood College, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, leadership, political, social, and faith-based issues. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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News Article

February 12, 2014
Pinder: NYC practitioners seek to partner on products for Asian clientele

With the multi-billion dollar Baha Mar project set to open its doors later this year, the Ministry of Financial Services is eyeing high-net-worth Asians in an effort to strengthen the country's investment funds business.Following a trip to New York last week, Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder confirmed to Guardian Business that he met with a prominent law firm that represents a number of these individuals and which is looking at the possibility of operating in The Bahamas, given the proximity to the United States. He pointed out how "a lot" of investment funds are managed from northeastern cities like New York and Connecticut."That's certainly something that we're committed to and look forward to developing. The Bahamas could be a platform for many of [his] clientele from China to conduct business and manage their assets," he said."Given the exposure that Baha Mar is giving The Bahamas, it presents us with an opportunity that we leverage, using those assets to further develop the financial services in China, especially with the cooperation of the senior practitioners, along with their legal and investment advisors who primarily may be in New York."While not revealing who the firm is, he did say that it is world-renowned and multinational. In the meantime, Pinder said he continues to encourage industry stakeholders to look to the U.S. to advance their business, whether it's investment funds or wealth management."I had an opportunity to speak with some senior practitioners that have a number of high-net-worth Asian/Chinese clientele who are very interested in working closely with The Bahamas to provide a platform to attract Asian persons to The Bahamas, not only to utilize the country to manage their assets but to even move to The Bahamas and be able to base some of their business activities from within The Bahamas," he explained."While in New York, I took the opportunity to set up a number of meetings with some attorneys and other relevant financial services practitioners. And it was very encouraging to know that these practitioners wanted to work in partnership with The Bahamas to develop products and platforms to attract high net worth Chinese persons to The Bahamas."Pinder also addressed the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists' International Financial Crime Conference & Exhibition at the Marriott Marquis while in New York. That two-day conference ended last Friday.

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