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Intervention by Fred Mitchell MP Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Mid-Year Budget statement
House of Assembly Nassau 11th March 2013 CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
I wish to thank the leaders of my constituency branch for their support. I looked at them on Saturday as they worked the souse out on the Fox Hill Park and admired them all for their hard work and dedication: Charlene Marshall, Altamese Isaacs, Deidre Rolle, Hazon Pinder, Sherene Glinton Armbrister, and Ellamae Collie. Took time out from their leisure Saturday to make sure the branch is funded. We must do something for them. I wish to extend condolences to the Member for Golden Gates on the passing of his mother. I wish to recognize the passing of T Baswell Donaldson, the former Central Bank Governor whose funeral I attended on Saturday.
Like most persons, one of the things you may find frustrating is how to
save money. So I am going to share with you the best personal finance
advice on how to save money. And it is simpler than you think!
While you may feel that the key to saving is simply earning more money,
the truth of the matter is no matter
how much money you earn if you are not doing this one simple thing then
you will never be able to save money.
Personal finance and saving money is all about spending less than you
earn. And that is the struggle for most persons ensuring that they spent
less money than they actually earn. The key reason for this is no
What role will money play in The Bahamas' 2012 general election? Does the party with the most money always win Bahamian elections? That is the feeling of many observers. Money will be spent, of course. Lots of it. But we will have absolutely no idea where this money comes from.
Night before last we were in Bamboo Town with Cassius Stuart. Tonight we’re here with Kenyatta Gibson and Karen Butler.
All I ‘ga say is three for three.
Before I go on, let met me remind you that this Saturday will be the grand opening of the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.
The following is a statement by the Government of The Bahamas regarding the appointment of Stephen Thompson as anti-money laundering coordinator.
The Bahamas continues to play an integral role in the international financial services sector by creating and maintaining the highest quality of financial intermediary products and services while adhering to the Anti-Money Laundering & Combating the Financial of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards of the Financial Action Task Force - the international standard-setting AML/CFT body.
As a prominent member jurisdiction of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (the CFATF) - the regional equivalent of the Financial Action Task Force (the FATF) and, as of November 2012, deputy chair of that organization, the government of The Bahamas fully subscribes to ensuring the greatest level of compliance with our AML/CFT obligations.
We are cognizant of the challenges of complying with the Forty Recommendations of the FATF and are attuned to the revisions to those recommendations which came into effect February, 2012. Nevertheless, we will continue to commit the necessary resources to ensure compliance with those standards ahead of our next Mutual Evaluation by the CFATF, which is scheduled for early 2014.
The most critical revisions to the FATF's recommendation are seen in Recommendations 1 & 2, where Recommendation 1 requires The Bahamas to identify, assess and understand the money laundering and terrorist financing risks in the country and to develop mechanisms to effectively mitigate such risks.
Recommendation 2 stipulates that our AML/CFT policies and programs should be properly coordinated and regularly reviewed.
In our effort to meet these obligations, The Bahamas has appointed Stephen Thompson as national anti-money laundering coordinator. Thompson has been an integral part of the National Anti- Money Laundering Task Force which falls within the Office of the Attorney-General. Having served within the financial services regulatory framework since 2001, Thompson is fully aware of the local, regional and international AML/CFT initiatives. In addition to his work locally, he has also participated in the work of the CFATF and FATF and served as an assessor for the CFATF on two occasions.
Therefore, we are satisfied that he has the requisite qualifications and commitment to serve as The Bahamas' AML/CFT national coordinator.
As national coordinator, Thompson will be responsible for, among other things, monitoring The Bahamas' level of compliance with regional and international AML/CFT standards, ensuring adequate preparation of The Bahamas for all regional and international AML/CFT assessments, creating and maintaining a robust AML/CFT public relations and training program, etc.
We wish Thompson every success in his role as national anti-money laundering coordinator as we seek to further strengthen our financial services sector and prepare to assume the enviable position of Chair of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force in November of this year.
Dr. John Rodgers recently announced his remedy to save homes from foreclosure. In summary he suggested:
1. "...reduce the Central Bank prime rate from 5.25 percent to 2.25 percent or lower..."
2. Banks "could reduce the principal on their troubled mortgages by 50 percent..."
3. "...the government should take immediate steps to establish a Foreclosure Trust Fund" of $150 million.
Firstly, times are difficult and families losing their homes must be devastated, but to suggest that reducing the prime lending rate to two percent would help save a home from foreclosure is not possible. The Nassau Institute worked the sums back in June 2011, and the results tell a different story.
Secondly, to state that banks should reduce the principal of mortgages in default by 50 percent is reckless. Banks lent money to the borrowers in good faith, and at market values. It is worth noting that banks here are not responsible for the world's economic woes.
Thirdly, government has no money to establish a Foreclosure Trust Fund. As Milton Friedman is reported to have said, government has no money, it must take it from the taxpayer one way or another -- taxes and or debt, etc.
It's always curious how so many people justifiably take issue with government programs, yet believe they can design them and everything will work just fine. Friedrich Hayek called that "The Fatal Conceit".
He was right when noting: "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."
It's difficult times like these when families should come together to see how they can best help each other. Sometimes foreclosure is the only option, but some people have been lucky enough to move in with their family members and rent their home to keep the payments current. Banks also help if borrowers do not pretend they don't exist. The possibilities will vary with each circumstance.
Even with his scheme Dr. Rodgers laments, "You can't save all of the mortgages. Some of them are going to go down because people have no jobs and no monies at all."
Taking tax dollars from Bahamian's so people in the political class and civil service can decide who they want to give it to is a dangerous precedent. It would be preferable for people with like minds Dr. Rodgers to risk some of their own money to be altruistic with. Maybe a private trust fund to help the less fortunate retain their homes is possible. That way it might be exempt of the political gamesmanship like so many other government schemes in the past.
Altruism with other people's money creates more problems than it solves.
- Rick Lowe
In a move involving six local investors, a new service is launching that allows Bahamians to seemlessly transfer cash through a click on your cell phone.
Celepay, through its initial $500,000 investment, hopes to drastically simplify money transfers in The Bahamas.
"It allows you and your family to conduct business in the same day," Byron Fawknotson, the CEO of Celepay, told Guardian Business.
"If you wait on the bank, you could be waiting a week."
As the company rolls out its product, he said the service will first undergo a "soft launch" at The College of The Bahamas (COB).
Celepay is giving away $3,000 to as many as 300 students at COB in an effort to test out the program and show people how it works.
Selecting students for their launch was not an accident, according to Fawknotson.
When the company put up their Facebook page, he said, it received 500,000 views in the first two weeks. More than 1,500 said they "liked" the service through the page, he added, and the vast majority of these consumers proved to be in the 19 to 26 year-old range.
Likewise, market research in the area, Fawknotson explained, shows young people are more predisposed to this kind of technology.
Text message money transfers already exist in many parts of the world, he pointed out.
Countries ranging from Canada, to The Philippines, to Kenya make use of the service to improve the ease of sending money between parties.
In The Philippines, a country of nearly 90 million people and more than 7,000 islands, the technology is especially useful. Similarly, The Bahamas could greatly benefit from the service as transactions go back and forth between the islands.
Celepay is not linked to your bank account, the CEO explained.
"It is a self contained account, different from the bank," he said. "You put as much money into it as you want."
Like phone cards, Bahamians can purchase Celepay cards from vendors and top up the account. Soon the cards will also be available at vendors, including supermarkets and gas stations.
Roscoe Dames, one of the directors and shareholders in Celepay, said the company is in talks with these vendors to take on the service.
He could not reveal the names of these clients at this time.
"The way it works is, I'm sending money from my phone number to your phone number," he said.
"It's on our server - it has nothing to do with your bank account at all. When vendors come online, they can cash you out using the service. You could buy products or services or just get the cash."
Because security is an issue, Dames told Guardian Business that the system is designed to be safe.
To sign up, users must give their first name, last name, phone number and assign a password. If your phone is ever lost, it's possible to cancel your Celepay account, although the thief would have to know your password to gain any access to the account.
He pointed out the Celepay account can also be linked to your bank account, allowing users to cash in there, although customers must sign a special contract for that service.
Celeplay charges a service fee for every transfer made. At the moment, transactions are limited to a maximum of $300, and Celeplay takes 1 percent, meaning that transfer could cost you $3.
Fawknotson said the company will likely raise the amount that can be transferred as it progressed beyond the soft launch phase.
He said the Central Bank is "supporting us" and Celeplay wishes to perform "due diligence" and develop confidence in the new system.
As politicians prepare to debate a bill to amend the Parliamentary Elections Act today, Leader of the Opposition Perry Christie pointed to the "enormous" sums of money spent during elections, charging that it's leading to the depression of Bahamian democracy.
"A lot of money is being spent on elections and I think both sides must exercise some kind of understanding that the culture of spending money is taking our democracy in the wrong direction," Christie said during a recent interview.
"And how money is spent during elections, it's a very, very expensive venture, and for people who want to come into politics (as independent candidates) it becomes very, very difficult and very daunting when you look at the challenges."
Christie's comments came after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham introduced the bill in Parliament last Monday. The bill contains a broad spectrum of amendments and changes aimed at streamlining the voting process.
One of the major changes under the new legislation is for the establishment of polling places outside the country at Bahamian embassies and high commissions.
While he applauds that step, Christie said politicians have "an obligation to examine matters with a view to ensuring that there is consideration to presenting laws that are more transparent, and regulations that are more accountable to the process of election."
Christie said there ought to be a full examination of the law as it relates to electoral practices. He said there is also a need for specific laws to address the issue of "doing "favors" for constituents. As it relates to the establishment of international polling stations, Christie said he is concerned about where students can vote who are studying in countries where there are no Bahamian embassies or high commissions.
Under the proposed amendments, among those eligible to vote outside the country are students, persons employed at Bahamian embassies, high commissions or other foreign missions of The Bahamas posted overseas, their spouses or members of their immediate family residing with them.
Christie said while that amendment would cut considerable expenses to the affected persons and, in some cases election candidates, who pay for student constituents to come home to vote, consideration should be given to those who have no access to embassies and commissions.
Christie said enormous sums have been paid over the years by candidates to bring students home.
"in the past, and I'm speaking for myself, if I wanted students home and the parents were unable to afford it, then I had to find the money to bring them home on the basis that every vote counts," Christie said.
If the amendments are passed, overseas voting would take place on the same day as the advanced poll, and at the end of that poll the sealed ballot box would be returned to The Bahamas and delivered to the parliamentary commissioner.
The advanced poll is taken a week before the general election.
Debate on the bill is expected to begin in the House of Assembly today at 10 a.m.
Like most persons, one of the things you may find frustrating is how to save money. So I am going to share with you the best personal finance advice on how to save money. And it is simpler than you think!