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News Article
Education Officials, BOB Honour 160 of the Littlest Best and Brightest

Nassau, Bahamas -
Hundreds of Palmdale Primary students gathered in a tree-shaded
courtyard this week as the bright lights of TV cameras and the attention
of top education officials, teachers and classmates shone on the best
and brightest and encouraged all.

In an assembly sponsored by BOB
with other corporate support, 160 students from grades one through six
were honoured for their achievements and Palmdale Primary got top marks
for its overall performance.

"Palmdale Primary students not only
performed on grade level in reading, but an overwhelming majority in
Grades 4, 5 and 6 performed above grade level...

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News Article
We've got all your Sports action at Rooster's!

Freeport, Bahamas -

Grand Bahama's largest Sports Bar, Rooster's has
your game on!  Whether you like basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, or
the latest UFC fight, we've got you covered.

Enjoy your favourite sport on one of our many screens either sitting
around our popular bar area, or seated comfortably on one of our
couches. Make it a group table with your friends along, we'll make sure
you enjoy your game along with your favorite beverage, bar snacks and
light foods.

For big sports events we have

all our screens going along as usual with the addition of the large
stage screen, making it feel like an outdoor theatre. Friendly staff...

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News Article
50th Anniversary Celebrations: E. P. Taylor and The Lyford Cay International School

Nassau, Bahamas - To say that E.P. Taylor lived
a full life is an understatement. The man behind the Lyford Cay community
was a dynamic, dedicated, innovative and preserving individual. It is
appropriate, therefore, that as we celebrate the 50th year of Lyford
Cay International School (LCIS), we pay tribute to the individual who
created and executed a vision that has become the lifeblood of our own
lives. For in light of our mission, and as representative of the International
Baccalaureate program, there are few who epitomize the philosophy and
goals of LCIS so well. Indeed, Taylor brings the International Baccalaureate's
(IB) Learner Profile to life and is the very essence of the IB's Creativity,
Action, and Service (CAS) component...  

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News Article
Reviving the sport of 'sculling' in the Bahamas

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 ...

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News Article
Carl Hield featured on AIBA website!

Bahamian boxers are getting the kind of training they need to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, and now the whole world is aware of it!
Welterweight Carl Hield was featured on the International Boxing Association's (AIBA) website yesterday, as a powerful boxer looking to build up his endurance heading into the final round of Olympic qualifiers, in May. Hield and fellow Bahamian Valentino Knowles are looking to continue a period of excellence for local amateur boxers by becoming the second and third Bahamians to reach the Olympics in the past four years. Taureano Johnson made it all the way to the quarter-finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and now Hield and Knowles are looking for their moment of glory.
When contacted yesterday at the high level endurance-training camp in Cardiff, Wales, Hield wasn't even aware that he was featured on the global boxing website, but added now that his name is out there, he will definitely be looking to show what he is made of.
"This is probably the best camp that I have been to in terms of developing the whole boxer," said Hield yesterday. "What we are going through here is very intense. In addition, we're getting a greater understanding of the scoring system, letting us know what to expect at the highest level of amateur boxing. The sport has progressed to the point where you have to be up to speed on the technical aspect of it if you are going to advance at tournaments such as the Olympics and the World Championships. This is my third camp, and where this one stands out, is that it teaches us more of the basics and what to expect. I'm enjoying it and just embracing the opportunity."
Both Hield and Knowles won bronze medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, and Knowles is the reigning Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games Champion. At the world championships level, Knowles became the first Bahamian to win a bout at that level, with his victory over Joseph Njogu from Kenya in Milan, Italy, in 2009. In the light welterweight division (64 kg.), Knowles is ranked second in the region while Hield is the fifth ranked welterweight in this region. They have a bout a week and half remaining at the high level training camp in Cardiff, where they are expected to reach new levels of fitness, and be on par with the conditioning of top-level boxers from around the world.
The interval training in Cardiff reportedly brings a combination of high intensity burst of speed and short recovery phases in a single workout. The main objective of the camp is to build speed and endurance. The theory is that by adopting high intensity interval training, the boxers will be able to adapt their bodies to burn lactic acid more efficiently, allowing them to exercise at much higher intensity for longer periods of time, thereby having improved performance through greater speed and better endurance. Cross-training mixed with interval training is said to make the boxers amongst the fittest athletes in the world.
"The training is going very well," said Head Coach Andre Seymour yesterday. "It is very cold up here but Carl and Valentino are not deterred. They know what they need to do to get to London. They are focussed and are putting in the work. This camp was ideal for us to get ready for the final qualifier for the Olympics. What you have here is a lot of technical work going on. Every day we do a lot of sparring and a lot of running. It's good to be working with a different cadre of boxers from different parts of the world. That could only serve to help us in our goal of qualifying for the Olympics," he added.
Seymour, who himself is a Three Star internationally certified coach, said that even he has learned a lot mixing with coaches from different nationalities up there at the camp. About 15 countries are represented at the camp.
"Our boxers are getting more cardio and learning more of the European style," said Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB) President Wellington Miller, who also serves as the president of the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC). "The training up there is very intense. Carl's photo shows that he is in good shape and Valentino is always ready to go. I just spoke to them and they are in high spirits. Both of them are well known in the Americas and now they are becoming well known in the world. I'm very confident that they will be able to put it all together because these guys know what it is like to train on this side of the world and now they are getting their feet wet with European style training. It's just a matter of time before they'll be able to put it all together. With Carl being featured on AIBA's website, I think that is huge. It puts his name out there and the name of The Bahamas out there. That's a big thing for The Bahamas. It's a global website so people from all over the world will be able to see it, and The Bahamas will be able to benefit from sports tourism."
In Cardiff, Hield and Knowles hit the gym about three times per day, constantly staying in shape. It is predicted that many of the boxers at the 'Road to London' program in Cardiff, will have increased their endurance levels by up to 50 percent by the end of the three-week training camp. Hield and Knowles are scheduled to return to The Bahamas on March 10, and will head directly to Cuba to continue their preparation for the final Olympic qualifier, from May 11-20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The top five welterweights and light welterweights from that tournament will qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

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News Article
Freeport to Hold Third Annual Join me on the Bridge in light of International Women's Day

Freeport, Bahamas - On the 8th of March, women, men,
and children from Grand Bahama, are set to make history by
joining together at the Garden of the Groves to celebrate International
Women's Day as they walk across the Bridge in solidarity with women,
men and children around the world who believe in peace and equality
for all.

 

"Join me on the Bridge"

is the biggest women's rights campaign in
the world today. What started as a gathering of Rwandan and Congolese
women on a bridge connecting their two countries, showing that women
could build bridges of peace and hope for the future, has sparked what
is today a massive global movement. Last year over 75,000 people joined
together...

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News Article
Political parties must set clear policies

Dear Editor,
 
The much-anticipated upcoming general election is expected to be formally called and Parliament dissolved by Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham within the next few weeks.  Established youth organization (organizers of the 'Say Something' youth forum) 'We Are The Future' - A Youth Organization in conjunction with its election arm 'Truth Bahamas' wishes to engage those seeking election in discussion on the key issues currently affecting The Bahamas.
The governing Free National Movement, the official opposition Progressive Liberal Party and the newly formed Democratic National Alliance have now all officially launched their candidates.  It would, therefore, appear that the three political parties, as well as the numerous independent candidates, are ready for the campaign ahead of the general election.
Notwithstanding the lights, carefully orchestrated political performances and the professionally drafted, repetitious, empty and partisan rhetoric without a clear statement of the issues currently facing The Bahamas and a clear statement of each party's policy position on those issues, it would appear that no one is ready to actually govern the country for the next five years if elected.  While it is imperative for each party to outline what it intends to do if elected, this rhetoric is not helpful and is moreover unrealistic, especially considering the flexibility required in governance, as well as the unstable global economic climate in which the elected government must operate.
Where the leaders of the respective parties have made traditional campaign promises, there has been no substantial and realistic discussion as to the viability of these promises and absolutely no indication of the source of funds required to make such promises a reality.
Whilst we understand that election campaign literature (Manifesto 2012, Our Plan, etc.) has yet to be published 'We Are The Future' - A Youth Organization, on behalf of the youth electorate, call for this literature to include a clear statement of each party's policy as it relates to the following key issues currently facing The Bahamas:
1. Crime - Including proposed statutory amendments to ensure that justice is properly served and safeguarded in the interest of society, propositions for the enhancement of the prosecution capabilities at the Attorney General's Office, propositions for the preservation of independent prosecutions inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated for crime fighting (if any), etc;
2. The judiciary - Including parties' policies on protecting the independence of the judiciary, propositions on expanding the number of judicial officers, propositions for the modernization of the various judicial registries inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated for crime fighting (if any), etc;
3. Immigration - (i.) General policy on immigration, more specifically including parties' policies on illegal immigrants, those working and residing within The Bahamas without leave to work and/or remain, policy on present statutory framework and proposed amendments to either regularize and/or crack down on illegal immigration;
(ii.) General policy on foreign labor, more specifically including an established and transparent process for the grant of work permits, such that the same may be subject to proper scrutiny, whether public, judicial or otherwise, etc;
4. The economy - General economic and monetary policy, including propositions to diversify the current economic model, relieving the present day reliance on tourism, inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated on such diversification (if any);
5. Tax - General policy for a sustainable system of taxation, more specifically propositions for the overhaul of the current tax regime, more specifically, policy and propositions on income tax, value added tax (VAT), sales tax, corporation tax, etc;
6. Oil exploration and drilling - General policy on offshore oil exploration and drilling, more specifically, in support of it or not, if so, policy on the requisite environmental protections and tax framework, immigration policy relating to the required specialist workforce, policy on educating young Bahamians in specialist areas;
7. The environment - General policy for a sustainable environment, more specifically, the proposed legislative program to ensure protection of the environment, etc;
8. Youth entrepreneurship - General policy to encouraging youth entrepreneurship;
9. Social welfare - General policy for sustainable social welfare, inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated for proposals (if any);
10.  Unemployment - General policy to reducing unemployment, inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated for proposals (if any);
11.  Sports - General policy to encourage sporting in The Bahamas.
The country looks forward to considering parties' and candidates' policies on the issues in exercising the established democratic tradition through the upcoming general election.
 
- 'We Are The Future' - a youth organization

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News Article
A taste that became a craving

The world of accounting's loss is definitely a plus to the world of fashion.
Ten years ago, while still a college student, studying towards a bachelor's degree in business administration, New Providence native Kamela Forbes booked a nine-month engagement with the Ebony Fashion Fair Tour. She worked the runway almost daily during that stint, traveled to over 100 U.S. cities, and even walked during a show in The Bahamas as part of the tour. It was a life-changing experience for her. She took a year off from finding a job in the financial sector. She says she has not had a day of regret since.
When the tour ended, Forbes knew her life would never be the same. She decided that a desk job was not something she wanted to entertain anymore. She had gotten a taste of the fashion world on a large scale and that made her crave it even more. As soon as she could, she hopped on the first flight to Los Angeles, California, in pursuit of a career in fashion. She has not looked back.
After a decade in the industry, she's been used in photo shoots for over 20 magazines, including Ebony, Essence, Cosmopolitan, InStyle and Rolling Stones. Hers is indeed a fascinating story.
Breaching the world of fashion was something the five-foot, 10-inch beauty dreamt about since her childhood. During the early years she says she experienced numerous rejections along the way. She says many companies initially didn't even let her book appointments to meet with them. She didn't let that deter her. In those cases she said she often just marched in and was persistent in her quest. She eventually landed at Otto Model Management and they helped her build her portfolio in Los Angeles before she headed to New York. She's currently signed to Major Model Management.
Next up for the Bahamian stunner is a trip down the runway at the "Some Like it Hot" fashion show in Bermuda on Friday, April 6. It's a walk she's looking forward to as she's passionate about the runway and high fashion, but over the years, different projects have taken her away from the runway.
Forbes has done print work for Tiffany & Co.'s March catalogue. And done work with Target and Macy's. She can also be seen in ads for the Motorola cell phone company. On the high fashion side of things, she has also worked with designers J. Mendel and Marc Jacobs.
"I love runway because it's a thrill from start to finish. It's like transforming yourself into someone else. The entire production of the runway is so vibrant. It's lights and cameras and a great audience. It's really fun. Unfortunately for me runway modeling is not as financially rewarding as print modeling. I like print because your life is never the same everyday. It's a different project almost every time. With department stores you are asked to be an everyday kind of person. You're more relatable and can just be yourself. On the other hand an editorial shoot may need me to be different. Make-up, the clothes, the poses are more complex and that's a lot of fun as well. It's a lot more creative."
No matter the opportunity, Forbes is happiest when she gets to travel to do her work. She has traveled to Europe and Africa to do shoots and runway shows.
While the past decade has been a journey for her, she says one of the most important lessons she has learned is that a model has to have a thick skin, be patient, and work hard - no matter the situation. She may not have started her career as early as other models who started out as teenagers, but she says she is glad for the time she had to discover herself.
Her advice to up-and-coming models is to think about what they are doing, and create a portfolio that is diverse, but not expensive.
"You have to have a portfolio, but I wouldn't advise investing in something too expensive because you never know what the agency is looking for. They often are fine with simpler shots, but it's nice to have something different in there as well. Besides, many agencies will still just push you in the direction they want you to go in. If their dream is do something in the U.S. they need to look up the agencies and find out which day they allow walk-in models. Most will let you just come but others are by appointment."
She says a good age to start pursuing a modeling career is 16, or when they have finished high school because like a professional sport, in modeling, the earlier you get started, the better off you are.
Forbes, an advocate of education, says she is torn about the issue because she says the precious time it takes to obtain a college degree narrows the window of success in the field.
"Unless a young girl is sure she has the talent and look the industry wants, as well as the backing from an agency, heading straight into the industry, it may not work out as well. It's a hard thing to put your all into something and it not be rewarding even years down the line. There is some good in having your college degree so you have something to fall back on, but if you have a good chance in the industry from the start then it would be good to just go for it."
Forbes hopes to return to The Bahamas to scout for young models as well as set up a company where she can share her expertise in the field so that young people who want to enter the field don't have to endure the trials she had to. She would like to serve as a mentor and help make their road into the industry easier. This is something she knows the importance of, especially as she did not have anyone to serve as her mentor in her early days.
"It's a tough field," said Forbes, "but it is so rewarding when you can stick it out. It's not easy but I would encourage others to follow their hearts. I am really living my dream and I would like to help others to do the same," she says.

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News Article
Laing predicts GB 'renaissance' at Outlook

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."

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News Article
All that glitters

If last weekend's Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) motorcade from Freeport to West End and the political rally that immediately followed are indicative of what lies ahead in the upcoming general election, an objective observer could reasonably conclude that Grand Bahama is no longer Free National Movement (FNM) country.  That claim could equally be supported because of the abject government neglect of that depressed island, which is presently experiencing a 21.2 percent rise in the unemployment figure.  The PLP's support last weekend was so overwhelmingly impressive that one can more easily understand why Zhivargo Laing abandoned Marco City in Freeport to political newcomer Norris Bain, preferring instead to take his chances once again in Fort Charlotte in Nassau, where he has no natural ties, except for his parliamentary outcome which is now tied -- with one victory and one defeat in the latter constituency.
It was during his rally speech in West End that Perry Christie urged the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) to defer the appointment of a new executive chairman until after the next general election.  At that same rally, Philip Davis, PLP deputy leader, noted that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham "all but admitted that... Freeport was neglected because of a personal feud he had with the GBPA...".  Davis explained that "the feud came as a result of his (Ingraham's) refusal... to renew the work permit of Hannes Babak, the then chairman of the GBPA."  And, at the opening of the headquarters of the PLP candidate for Garden Hills, Dr. Kendal Major, this past Friday, Christie once again referred to the matter, saying that Ingraham had let "a private feud with Hannes Babak get in his way of working with the GBPA" which Christie said "hurt Bahamians".
In light of these developments, we would like to Consider This.... based on Christie's and Davis' utterances, if the PLP wins, do they intend to renew Hannes Babak's work permit to become chairman of the GBPA?
 
The facts
Let's review the facts:
1. Hannes Babak became the chairman of the GBPA shortly after Julian Francis, a Bahamian, was fired from that position.  Following Francis' departure, other senior Bahamians were 'let go' or 'retired', including Barry Malcolm, Carey Leonard, Albert Gray and Willie Moss, all long-standing and outstanding Bahamians working at the GBPA.
2. In his capacity as chairman of the GBPA, Babak was buried under an avalanche of criticism by many notable Freeport businessmen and professionals because of his position, both as the head of the GBPA that licensed businesses in that city, as well as a licensee of the very body that granted and regulated such licences.  The GBPA also granted licences to Babak or to companies the he owned.
3. Babak had substantial business interests in Freeport, most notably the Home Centre, Freeport Concrete and H & F Babak Construction.
4. The Home Centre operated in the retail trade in building supplies, a business which is generally reserved for Bahamians.  At the time that the Home Centre commenced operations, Babak was not and is still not a Bahamian citizen.
5. Babak's construction company actively competed against Bahamian contractors while he served as chairman of the GBPA.
6. When he was appointed as the chairman of the GBPA, Babak needed a work permit in order to hold that office, which was granted by the Christie administration during its term in office between 2002 and 2007.
7. When he assumed office, Ingraham made it patently clear that his government would not renew Babak's work permit and stuck by his word not to do so.  He said what he meant and meant what he said.  This action, according to some, was ostensibly at the core of the differences between the Ingraham administration and Sir Jack Hayward, a substantial shareholder of the GBPA.
We believe that no single individual should be allowed to hold a city, its residents, employees or the government hostage for any reason whatsoever, no matter how substantial their investment might be in this country.   No single individual or group of individuals should be allowed to assault our sovereignty or to withhold benefits from our citizens.  That is non-negotiable.
We have been reliably informed that Babak has and will continue to financially support the political party of his choice in the upcoming elections.  As a permanent resident, albeit with the right to work in his own business, Babak is entitled to support whichever political party or parties he chooses.  However, we trust that any financial support he offers to whichever party he chooses will not be construed as a quid pro quo for any benefit he might wish to receive should the party that he supports become the government.  This includes the issuance of a work permit to become chairman of the GBPA once more.
 
What can a voter do?
In order to avoid this, every voter in Grand Bahama who is approached by PLP and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) candidates should make it patently clear that the only way that such voters would consider supporting either party is for the candidate to promise that, if elected to Parliament, they would vehemently oppose the issuance of a work permit to Babak to work in any capacity at the GBPA, especially as its chairman.  We already know where the FNM stands on this issue.  The real power of the franchise is to hold candidates to principled positions if they are elected.  This is truly where your vote can count and not be wasted on more mundane issues that are often discussed during the election campaign.
For just a moment, if we were to consider dispassionately whether or not Babak is good for Grand Bahama -- which is the only criteria that, in this case, he should be judged by -- we would have to conclude from past behavior that he simply is not.  There are far too many well documented examples of how he proved to be divisive within the GBPA and within the community.
Moreover, the much touted legion of wealthy international investors with whom Babak is supposed to have great influence do not seem to have ever materialized on Grand Bahama's shores.
In fact, for a person who is rumored to be such a global deal-maker, the lack of material on the Internet about him and his business is astounding.  No, dispassionately or otherwise, we are forced to conclude that Babak is not the glittering solution to the problems of Freeport, proving how all that glitters is not gold.
 
Conclusion
We believe that the decision taken by Ingraham not to grant Babak a work permit was unquestionably the correct one at the time.  It was correct then and it is correct now and it will continue to be correct for a recovering Grand Bahama.
The voters should make it clear that any government that attempts to reverse that considered decision will do so at its peril.
 
oPhilip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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