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Progressive Liberal Party Member of Parliament for St. Thomas More Frank Smith has suggested that the government has scrapped its mid-year budget statement this year because it does not want to focus attention on the state of the country's fiscal affairs, given that a general election is approaching.
But Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing said the government decided to forgo it in light of the fact that it is winding down its parliamentary agenda ahead of the election.
In a statement, Smith said, "Following the general election of 2007 the PM introduced what he said was an important new initiative, the practice of a mid-term budget address and debate.
"At the time, he is quoted as saying that it was a matter of best practice that we come to Parliament to provide an update on the state of play of public finances at mid-year.
"Now this is 2012. We are already well into February, well beyond the mid-year point, and the PM has provided no indication that he intends to be consistent with his practice. In fact, the House of Assembly is now being so managed as to prevent members from having an opportunity to speak as the government maneuvers various measures through the parliamentary process."
Smith questioned whether Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and the Free National Movement have abandoned "what he and they once described as 'best practice' or are they afraid to account to the Bahamian people at this time".
"Are they afraid that honest debate in Parliament will expose the degree of mismanagement? That they would be found to have been wanting? Is it that they will have to disclose to the Bahamian public the true state of affairs of the government's finances?" he questioned.
But Laing said Smith and the Progressive Liberal party are "desperate in their political maneuvering".
"This is a group of people who spent five years in office never giving a mid-year report," the minister said.
"The mid-year budget report was a construct and an invention of the Free National Movement administration, so for Frank Smith to open his mouth about the mid-year budget report is the height of laughability.
"The reality is that the work of Parliament is approaching a wind down period and we are doing all and sundry to prepare for that very big process, which is the election process, and the government has determined in that regard that there be no mid-year budget presented."
Laing said the government is dealing with the final set of matters that it promised Bahamians it would address, including the Freedom of Information Bill, already passed by the Senate.
"If Mr. Smith wants to raise questions with respect to Parliament and the fiscal process, he can do that," the minister added.
"But it is nonsense, utter nonsense on his part, but I understand his desperation."
Laing said government revenue is lower than projected for the first six months of 2011-2012, but he could not provide figures as he spoke to The Nassau Guardian while riding in his car yesterday.
But he said revenue has traditionally performed better in the second half of the fiscal year due to the benefits of the height of the tourism season.
"That's been a trend now for years," Laing said.
The Ingraham administration has provided the mid-year budget statement in February, but Progressive Liberal Party MPs have annually branded the exercise a waste of time.
PRIME Minister Hubert Ingraham declared war last night on the casual attitude to petty crimes in the Bahamas.
Speaking at the opening of the FNM's Ft Charlotte constituency office, Mr Ingraham said he is spearheading a zero-tolerance policy on all law breakers.
"Reversing the tolerance for other crimes includes less tolerance for small things. This includes things like running the traffic light, driving with a back light out, or ignoring the speed limit," Mr Ingraham said.
The Prime Minister said his greatest priority is the safety and security of Bahamians, and this is why his party is tough on both crime and its causes.
He said the government is improving road safety by creating new ...
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - State Minister of Finance Zhivargo Laing says he is not "delusional" about the uphill climb for the Grand Bahama economy.
The minister served as the opening speaker of this year's Grand Bahama Business Outlook at the Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort. This year's event, he said, comes at a critical time. Laing believes it will be remembered as the turn of the tide for this struggling economy.
He told Guardian Business the island will begin to recover by the fourth quarter of this year, and by early 2013, the unemployment rate should fall below 20 percent.
"I'm not delusional," he said. "Grand Bahama's economy is significantly challenged. I think people do not realize for about 10 years this has been going on. That is the closest to a recession you can get.
"But I remain bullish on the future."
The minister began his speech by looking back over the last 10 years. In May 2002, he said, unemployment stood at 6.4 percent. By 2007 it had risen to 8.8 percent, caused by a lack of significant investment, the impact of hurricanes and in particular the closure of the Royal Oasis Resort.
Of course, next came the recession in 2008. The GBPA was also plagued with ownership and managerial issues at this time and there was limited promotion of the island.
Millions upon millions of dollars in government subsidies, he claimed, "stopped the island's economy from collapsing".
According to the latest numbers from the Department of Statistics, the unemployment rate on the island stands at more than 21 percent. Investment, both foreign and domestic, has remained stagnant and uninspiring.
After acknowledging the past, Laing announced to the crowd that the future holds a different story.
Continued government subsidies to the tune of $17.3 million this year, rising airlift from Bahamasair and "aggressive intentions" from the GBPA "will begin a renaissance of this island", he said.
Last week, Guardian Business reported that Bahamasair plans to inject at least $25 million into the Grand Bahama economy through significantly expanded airlift.
Through an initiative with the Ministry of Tourism, direct service from Baltimore, Raleigh, Louisville, Richmond and Fort Lauderdale will all begin in a matter of weeks.
Bahamasair is investing in new, more efficient planes for its fleet and will enlist a sub-service operator to assist with the service.
According to David Johnson, the director general in the Ministry of Tourism, airfare will be slashed 50 percent and travel time by 70 percent.
"I think we're going to gain serious momentum in the tourism sector as Bahamasair follows with this arrangement," Laing added. "I expect it will create results."
The minister said the "fullness" of the Job Readiness Programme should be felt a little later this year as spending works its way through the system. He told Guardian Business the intention is to improve the economic outlook and generate enthusiasm for those on the island.
Another concern for business interests in Grand Bahama is the future of the shipping industry.
Over recent months, Hutchison Port Holdings has laid off dozens of workers as Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), its sole client, continues to move operations over to Panama.
The booming South American nation has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the region, offering high efficiency, low prices and convenience.
Hutchison Port Holdings owns a significant stake in the Grand Lucayan, which has also experienced major struggles in recent years.
Laing said that with light at the end of the tunnel, stakeholders in Grand Bahama will stay the course.
"The one thing I am confident about is those who made an investment here are interested in protecting it. They have the ability to be creative and innovative," he said. "The government is prepared to do what it can to provide support. I think GB is ready for the turn and things will get better."
On September 16, 2011 the Catholic Church in England and Wales returned to the obligatory practice of abstaining from eating meat on Friday. The allowance, after Vatican II, for self-motivated substitutions to this rule, resulted in the erroneous widespread belief that the rule itself had been abolished. Not surprisingly, fasting gradually disappeared from the ordinary lives of many Catholics. The Bishops of England and Wales are now re-establishing the practice of Friday penance in order to unite Catholics and restore Catholic identity.
We are now in the season of Lent and the importance of fasting cannot be understated. Sacred scripture and Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. We first hear of the commandment to fast in Genesis where man is prohibited from eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After Adam and Eve's expulsion from the garden fasting is proposed, in the stories of Ezra and Nineveh, as an instrument to restore our friendship with God.
In the New Testament Jesus brings to light the true and most profound meaning of fasting which is to do the will of the Heavenly Father who "sees in secret and will reward you"(Mt. 6:18).
Jesus himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of 40 days and 40 nights in the desert: "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt. 4:4). True fasting then is eating the "true food" which is doing the Father's will. If, therefore, Adam disobeyed God's directive not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.
Fasting is recorded in the early church and is frequently encountered and recommended by the saints of every age. Today, however, fasting has lost much of its spiritual meaning. To a great extent it has been replaced by non-religious fasting meant to look good and impress others. While fasting does bring certain benefits to our physical well-being, it is, for Christians, primarily a means of mortifying our egoism, avoiding sin, and opening our hearts to the love of God and our fellow man.
Fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person.
Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to our Lord and be nourished by his saving word. Through prayer and fasting we allow Christ so satisfy our deepest hunger and thirst for God. At the same time fasting helps us recognize the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live. In his First Letter, St. John admonishes: "How can God's love survive in a man who has enough of this world's goods yet closes his heart to his brother when he sees him in need?" (1 Jn. 3:17)
Voluntary fasting enables us to become more like the Good Samaritan. By freely engaging in acts of self-denial we make a statement that those in need are not strangers but rather our brothers and sisters. This practice needs to be rediscovered and encouraged in our materialistic age, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.
Lent is a time when we fast with joy, submitting ourselves to spiritual struggles in preparation for the sorrowful Passion and joyful Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What is demanded of all Christians at this time is fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, restriction of personal desires and pleasures, intense prayer, confession and similar penitential elements.
Lent is a sacred time of divine grace, which seeks to detach us from things material, lowly and corrupt in order to attract us toward things superior, wholesome and spiritual. It is a unique opportunity to remove from the soul every inordinate passion so as to make room for the immense rejoicing and gladness of Easter.
Limiting ourselves to what is absolutely essential and necessary in an attitude of dignified, deliberate simplicity is a formula for patience and tolerance; it is an opportunity to acknowledge and emphasize our need for God's assistance and mercy, placing our complete trust in His affectionate providence; it is a prescription for salvation.
- Paul Kokoski
A former advisor to the Ministry of Finance is seeking to explain comments made by Barbadian Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler this week that The Bahamas has been placed on a watch list by the Financial Stability Board (FSB).
While not willing to speculate on the exact motives of Sinckler, or which list he might have been referring to, Rowena Bethel said the FSB published a report in November of last year identifying The Bahamas as having planned or requested a review of the international cooperation and exchange of information regime for its securities sector.
The same report also identified Barbados as having done the same for its banking and securities sectors.
The last time The Bahamas received a financial sector assessment review, which would have included a review of international cooperation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was 2004, she said, with the next apparently scheduled for June of this year.
She told Guardian Business, as a preliminary measure, FSB would have referred to the most recent IMF reports and information from the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) to determine whether a country is meeting the international standard for cooperation.
Where the earlier report identified deficiencies in meeting this standard, the FSB has sought to obtain an update on measures taken by the country to address them.
"We get excited about lists without necessarily understanding what their purpose is," Bethel said. "People need to understand the context under which the comments were made. The role of the FSB is to coordinate the activities of standard-setting bodies to ensure that countries are putting in regulatory measures and meeting standards. As part of their exercise, they went back and looked at the previous IMF reviews."
On February 28, Sinckler said Barbados and The Bahamas have been placed on a watch list of countries for examination by the FSB, which is an off-shoot of the Group of 20 (G-20). The minister made the comments during a visit from European Union officials.
Barbados is preparing to access million of dollars in funding to build an Institute of Financial Risk and Regulation.
"The Financial Stability Board, an offshoot of the G-20 process for the regulation and examination of financial centers, has put Barbados and The Bahamas on their list of countries for examination and for watch, even though we only control less than one percent of the resources flowing through in terms of the global financial architecture and structure," the finance minister said at the time.
The FSB report, which has been obtained by Guardian Business, provides a list of jurisdictions that have demonstrated a strong adherence to international regulations. Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands are the only Caribbean jurisdictions on this list.
Jurisdictions planning to take action on FSB recommendations include The Bahamas, Barbados, Colombia, Hungary and Malaysia.
Nations such as China, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Poland have already commenced efforts to sufficiently adhere to the international measures and regulations, according to the report, while FSB is in dialogue with Greece, Mauritius, Russia and Turkey.
Zhivargo Laing, the minister of finance, told Guardian Business, "We are not sure what Sinckler is talking about. There is no new listing The Bahamas is on that causes us any concern at all," he added.
2006 Monza 34 Open Fisherman in excellent condition with Twin 300 Yahama engines loaded with options. Draft is 2 foot 10 inches. Never water stored.
T-top with 6 rod holders rear flood light and spreader light, Taco
Grand Slam Outriggers, Electric Anchor with plow anchor, Birdsall
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Fresh and salt water washdown, 275 gal fuel, 36 gal of water, Furono NavNet VX2 GPS/ Chart plotter, Radar, Sounder, Icom VHF,
KFC employees showed up for work yesterday but were met by locked doors, according to union representatives.
Secretary General of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU), Darren Woods, said employees were instructed to show up to work.
However, management failed to follow suit.
He told Guardian Business the dispute will likely take a "different stage now" as "legal minds" are brought in to make sense of the matter.
Hundreds of KFC employees have been without work since Monday, when management issued a letter to the union saying it no longer recognized its authority. A second letter detailed a new wage and benefits structure for new employees, while perks for current employees were slashed, according to the union.
Brian Nutt, a board member at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), called the situation "uncharted waters". Nutt said the employment and labor division of the BCCEC has never seen a company flat-out refuse to work with a union.
In his mind, the crucial issue at stake is the fact that KFC's management acknowledged the BHCAWU in the first place.
"The interesting thing here is you have a situation where an employer has stated it will withdraw its recognition.
Whether it was voluntary or mandated, they did recognize them in the past," he explained. "Recognition once it's given cannot be taken away so quickly. There is a process that must resolve that."
The BCCEC board member agreed that legal action is likely the next course of action in the matter. He wondered what would happen in a court of law as it relates to provisions under the Industrial Relations Act. He said this process should shed light on any wrongdoing by either party.
On Tuesday, the chairman of the BCCEC, Winston Rolle, expressed surprise and disbelief at the move by KFC's management, questioning its ability to unilaterally make such a decision.
Richard Lowe, the vice president of the Nassau Institute, told Guardian Business that "there has to be a point where they say this is crazy".
He pointed out the current situation is a lose-lose for everyone. Employees are out of work, he said, and the company is losing money by the day.
"Temperatures are running high. Someone has to settle down and say let's come to a temporary agreement to restore the status quo," he said. "This is the worst case scenario. Everyone hurts even more."
Woods said the situation is now "far reaching" for other unions in the country. The law prohibits the "intimidation" of workers, he added, and other organizations should be concerned about the treatment of KFC workers.
Woods told Guardian Business the union is now in a 'holding pattern" as it charts the next move.
"Once we regroup, we'll speak with our legal team and decide the course of action," he said.
Nassau, Bahamas -
National Movement (FNM) government plans to officially open the Thomas
A. Robinson National Stadium, a $30 million gift from the Chinese government,
on Saturday. With the critical issues facing our nation, the Democratic
National Alliance believes this is highly irresponsible and reflects
how out of touch the FNM government has been.
says it will spend between $500,000-$600,00 on the official opening
of the stadium. Minister Charles Maynard is quoted as saying that "the
original budget was around $1 million so the new figure of $600,000
is not exorbitant." The DNA begs to differ. While a government known
for wasteful spending may not see this as exorbitant, the DNA understands
that this money could be used to...
In a bid to revive the sport of "sculling" in the Bahamas, Bahamian Brewery & Beverage Company built four more boats named after their products.
During the 25th 'Catch Me If You Can' St Valentine's Massacre in Montagu Bay, the boats were officially christened.
Winning the first race was the team of Sam Brown and Donald Bastian on the Sands Light. They were followed by the team of Jason Turnquest and Lyle Rolle on 'Sands,' while Daniel Knowles and Patrick sailed the 'High Rock' to third place.
James 'Jimmy' Sands, who contracted Sheldon Gibson to build the boats, said he was impressed with the outcome of their initial efforts and he's looking ...
Nassau, Bahamas - In
December 2010 the independent film
companies, One Light Collective and Soul Tools Production shot the
film, "Bahamian Son" at locations in Nassau; Fox Hill, Adelaide,
downtown Nassau. The project is written and directed by Reggie
whose father is Bahamian and mother is from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
traces Reggie's early life in Minnesota, with his mother and longing to
have some contact with his biological father, who hadn't seen him since
early childhood. Now an adult man, Reggie faces the challenges of trying
to mend bridges with his father meeting some obstacles and frustrations
along the way...