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The Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) announced today the members of the jury that will preside over the 7th edition of the Festival, which takes place December 1-5, 2010. The jury was revealed today by BIFF Founder and Executive Director Leslie Vanderpool.
Nassau, Bahamas - Scores of enthusiastic students engaged their
musical, dance and vocal talents to usher in the Christmas season in grand
style during the "Festival of Carols" held at Golden Gates World Outreach
Ministries, Carmichael Road on Wednesday, 5th December, 2012.
Ensemble Du Monde are the words that should be on everyone’s lips just now as they are the flavour of the month! An international classical orchestra in Nassau! It does not happen very often but it will next week, from Wednesday, February 20th to Sunday, February 24th, 2013.
Along with the establishment of the Central Revenue Agency (CRA), which will make the collection of taxes in The Bahamas more efficient, the government will strengthen the Consumer Protection Department to ensure that the public will not be taken advantage of by businesses illegally collecting VAT from their customers, Ministry of Finance official Lucine Mingo told teachers at Government High School recently.
The Bahamas has more than 30 departments and agencies collecting a variety of taxes and fees for the government. Mingo said that this has created a culture of poor communication between agencies, resulting in the inefficient collection of government funds.
"If customs knows that you've brought in $100,000 worth of imports, but then you have reported to the business licensing department that you have had a turnover of $50,000 for the year, which doesn't make sense, you were able to get away with that because the two agencies are not speaking to one another," he said.
While Mingo admitted that compliance with the law for major taxes and fees is often weak, he said that the ministry is making every effort to plug the holes in the system. The establishment of the CRA, he said, will ensure compliance with tax legislation and ease the burden of policing the 4,000 businesses and vendors collecting VAT on behalf of the government.
"Our new officers will be going to each one of these businesses, letting them know what will be expected of them," Mingo said. "VAT will require greater discipline from the business community, but will eventually mean improved infrastructure like schools and health care, along with enhanced social safety nets for the general population."
The new agency will be responsible for collecting VAT, stamp tax, real property tax, business licenses and taxes, hotel occupancy tax, casino tax and some bank and trust company fees.
For more information on the VAT implementation, please call the Ministry of Finance VAT hotline between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday at 225-7280.
You can also visit the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/vatbah242.
Knowledge can sometimes be the difference between life and death, especially for children in moments of crisis.
Last year seven children died in fires in The Bahamas.
Fritz Hong lost four of his children in a blaze at his Sandilands Village Road apartment. The fire was the result of an electrical shortage, according to then fire chief Superintendent Jeffrey Deleveaux.
In an effort to educate children, grade three students of Claridge Primary School on Monday were invited to the launch of Fire Safety Awareness Week at the Mall of Marathon.
Janatha Johnson, the class' teacher, said it was vital for students to know what to do in the case of a fire.
"They are the ones who need to know what to do and then they can go home and teach their parents what to do," she said.
"So if we can get it into them early... they could take the information and save their lives and help other brothers and sisters at home."
Students were given pamphlets with tips on establishing fire safety plans for their classrooms and homes.
"They did this in their curriculum in grade two and so now this is their first term in grade three and this is like reinforcement and just reminding them about it," Johnson said.
"So this week we'll be reinforcing it in the school... but we also want the parents to have a plan at home because that is where we have most of our fire accidents, so that's what I'm hoping they take away."
Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell said it was important that regular fire safety activities take place.
"Fire services statistics reveal a notable reduction in fire-related deaths, injuries and property loss over the period January 2011 to August 2011 and the corresponding period for 2012," he said.
"To date, unfortunately, there were two lives lost in 2012 compared to 12 in 2011 (year-to-date).
"This year, 12 persons suffered injuries compared to 29 for the same period in 2011."
Bell said the government, in protecting people, is mandated by law to provide a satisfactory level of fire protection, education, response, and detection.
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, our people expect a reliable level of response to incidents.
"The Royal Bahamas Police Fire Services is presently equipped with a small fleet of fire trucks for emergency and domestic response. This fleet has served us well over the past years.
"To help improve conditions, the government has made provisions during this fiscal period for the acquisition of five new fire trucks before the end of February 2013.
"These include four pumpers and one tanker. Three of the units are earmarked for New Providence and two units will be posted in Grand Bahama. Upon arrival, we expect that they will immediately be put into operation for service to our communities."
Nineteen people died in blazes in 2011. Deleveaux said last year that when those deaths are compared to the number of fires his department has responded to, it is fortunate that more lives were not lost.
Nassau, Bahamas - Under the theme, "Heads in the Cloud", the first Nassau Education Technology (NET.1) Conference was held
on Monday, 17th June, 2013 at the Lyford Cay International
School. The Honourable Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science
and Technology was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. Two
hundred fifteen (215) attendees from more than fifty (50) private and
government schools throughout the country participated in the conference
based on the cloud computing concept. The attendees had the opportunity
to interact with over seventy-five (75) technology industry representatives
from around the world.
FirstCare Medical Plan, R.E.A.C.H. Bahamas And Ministry Of Education Pledge To Make Contest Annual Campaign
Nassau, Bahamas – FirstCare Medical Plan in association with R.E.A.C.H. Bahamas and The Ministry of Education awarded three students with prizes valued at more than $1k at a press conference this morning announcing the winners of the first-ever Autism Awareness Essay Contest. More than fifty students submitted 300-word essays on the topic “Autism in The Bahamas: Building Relationships Through Understanding.” Junior and high school students from across the Bahamas through their essays, recounted experiences with autistic peers and family members and advocated for unified efforts to promote autism awareness from the government, schools, private and public sectors.
THE LADY ROBERTS - And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures..." (Genesis,1:2). While a crew of Spanish Wells fishermen profess this as truth, finding evidence of it was difficult during their last voyage.
For nearly two weeks, eight crew members aboard two fishing vessels endured the turbulent motion of the seas only to cast their nets in waters once dense with fish.
It did not used to be this way, explained lifelong captain Ray Roberts. The depleted stock of fish was disappointing, but he told his crew there was not a "blessed thing" anybody could do about it except remain faithful to the expedition and push on.
"There is no doubt that the sea is being overfished. There are too many fishermen for the size of the country we live in," Roberts said. "It's worse than I've ever seen it. I never found it so hard to find fish in my life."
Roberts speaks from 53 years of experience and counting. At 14 he went as far as he could in school, not unusual for Spanish Wells boys. He then set out to learn the secrets of the sea.
Later this year he will celebrate his 69th birthday, making him the oldest fishing captain in Spanish Wells, an island well-known for its success in the fishing industry.
"When I went to sea with my daddy I took interest in the business. I just knew I'd be a fisherman," he said. "Nobody had to convince me."
Two crippling accidents and six fishing boats later, Roberts is still moving full steam ahead. These days his fishing operation consists of Lady Roberts, a 62' Stapleton yacht he owns and operates, and Tenacious, a 55' Defender yacht he co-owns with diver Abner Pinder (known as Little Noah). He also owns Sea Ray, a crawfishing boat operated by his son and son-in-law.
Roberts learned to read the waters at an early age and has recorded the coordinates in both his books and mind. With no land in sight, Roberts stops the boat dead in the water and points to a white hole, which looks like any other white hole, and explains the amount and type of fish that frequents that spot.
"Captains were a lot smarter back then. We didn't have GPS', no Loran. When I started out we used charts," he said.
Roberts never set his mind on riches. But has become quite successful, even with his less than cooperative body. At 18 he was in a car accident that rendered him immobile. His skull was crushed and the doctors did not give him much hope that he would walk again.
But Roberts shrugged it off and concentrated on an outcome that was less gloomy. Within a few months he resumed his place at sea. His second dance with death took place 30 years ago on the maiden voyage of the Lady Roberts. While surfacing from a dive Roberts was chopped by an outboard motor, nearly severing his right arm and exposing his brain.
"I'm really not supposed to be alive. But my motto throughout life has been to fight to the last minute," Roberts said. "I thank God for life. He kept me here for a purpose."
Careless fishing practices
Roberts' own struggle to live only steeled his understanding that all life will fight to the death. But he fears that our big appetites and careless fishing practices will prevent a comeback of sea life.
He's already seeing evidence of this.
"Everywhere we went before we would haul at least 100 kits (a large bag of fish)," he said. "At the time we wouldn't haul for less than 50 kits. Now we make hauls of 20 to 30 kits."
Divers Little Noah and Mark Schmucker and boat operator Dudley Alburn (known as Granmoun), sped ahead in the skiff to check out known fish habitats. Roberts radioed his crew.
"Come in Granmoun. What do you see?"
"Plenty of grunts and two kits of Margot fish," Granmoun answered.
"Yeah, keep going," Roberts replied.
Roberts laments for the days when the concentration of sea life reached as far as the eye could see. Now this so-called miracle mile of fish has been reduced to a haul of faith.
He sighed, but with a grin said, "Oh we're going to catch some fish. It ain't over yet. If you give up, well, that's the end of it."
Fourteen years ago Roberts saw that a shortage of big fish was becoming a trend. Small fish swim with big fish. Once netted they die on deck, and denied the chance to mature. Bothered by the waste, he made a sorting table with a trap door so that small fish could be cast back to sea and given a chance to grow.
"We were killing so many little fish that could grow up and be useful. It's a disgrace what we did. I didn't think the banks would be overfished like they are," Roberts said.
Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, executive director at Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), agrees that fish stocks are paying the price for demand.
"The only time we know for sure when we lose a fish stock is when it's too late. Other countries have found out the hard way," she explained.
But something can still be done to conserve fish habitats without compromising the commercial fishing industry. Basically, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
"Marine reserves are critical for maintaining the fishing industry. We are lucky in The Bahamas because we have the opportunity to learn from our neighbors' (Jamaica, Virgin Islands, etc.) mistakes and we can use the precautionary principle and not go down that path," McKinney-Lambert said. "We want future generations to be able to fish."
Compounding the problem is crawfishing boats, which have begun fishing as their catch is being harvested by other fishermen.
"The government says once they (crawfish habitats) go in the water they belong to any Bahamian. That's what the government says, but they're wrong," Granmoun argued.
Roberts explained that it's not just a scrap among local fishermen.
"The Dominicans are coming into Bahamian waters and spearing traps. I really don't understand why they are allowed to come into our waters. Someone's getting a cut," he said. "The government should try to solve the problem by trying to enforce some sort of rules and regulations. If not, I believe it's going to come down to war out on the high seas."
There's more to their story than just schools of fish playing truant, or worse, never being present to begin with.
Basically, the crew aboard Lady Roberts and Tenacious experienced some setbacks, and it's possible that other fishermen made the hauls they intended to get.
During their weeks at sea the winds blew about 20 to 25 knots with nine to 12-foot seas. Also, equipment failed; their freezer had a fever and the crew spent an entire day preventing the fish they did catch from perishing.
And Jesse Higgs, 18, startled everyone when he went into a diabetic shock. They changed their route and whisked him to Cat Cay where he received treatment and was finally helicoptered to a Nassau hospital by the Coast Guard.
But Roberts and crew understand that some days you just "gotta let the rough end drag".
"If we didn't have any bad luck then we wouldn't have any at all," Roberts laughed. "You have to be tenacious. If you say 'I'll never make it,' you never will. You have to do what you need to do at the time you need to do it."
Eventually the crew did make headway and rejoiced for their few hundred kits of assorted fish, including the much sought after Goggle Eye -- a Good Friday favorite among Bahamians.
"God has provided a way for my prosperity," said Roberts. "I have found ways where there was no way."
*For more images please check our 'Online Gallery' section at: http://www.thenassauguardian.com/index.php?option=com_phocagallery&view=featured&Itemid=74
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald appealed to teachers last night to be more concerned about students with learning disabilities, and said he expects that with training they will do a better job of identifying those students this year...
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald yesterday defended the policy of fingerprinting expatriate teachers and said the process is an attempt to minimize sexual exploitation of children in the public school system.
Fitzgerald said fingerprinting foreign teachers is the only way police can confirm their identities and see if they have a criminal past.
He said the ministry will not hire foreign teachers who do not submit to the background check requirements of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).
The Employment Act states that no employer can request a worker to provide fingerprints as a requirement for employment or continued employment.
The only exception to this provision includes employers who are licensed under the Lotteries and Gaming Act. The Employment Act also states that anyone who contravenes this provision is liable to a fine of $5,000. Attempts to reach Fitzgerald to comment on the clause in the law were unsuccessful yesterday.
However, he released a statement saying he will "not compromise when it comes to protecting our little darlings and making decisions which are in their best interest".
He added: "All persons who are responsible for our children on school campuses are required to be properly and rigorously vetted by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Persons employed in public schools are included in a category which receives the most rigorous vetting in the public service for obvious reasons."
On Monday, the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) objected to the fingerprinting of foreign teachers.
The BUT said in a statement that several teachers from C. R. Walker high school were put on a bus and taken to the Central Detective Unit (CDU) to have fingerprints taken.
The union said this process cost $100 per teacher.
On Monday, Director of Education Lionel Sands said the union's concerns about the fingerprinting process violating the Employment Act should be taken up with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, not education officials.
Sands said the Ministry of Education instituted a strict vetting process in 2010 after several allegations of inappropriate behavior and student abuse by teachers surfaced.
Sands said all expatriate teachers whose contracts expire this summer, and who have never been investigated by the Ministry of Education must be vetted in order to be rehired.
He said fingerprinting is required for police background checks, not the Ministry of Education.
Sands said no teacher was forced to provide fingerprints to police.
He said he was told that teachers from C. R. Walker agreed last Friday to be fingerprinted on Monday at the same time to make the process easier.
Sands said the ministry has not coerced any teacher into giving their fingerprints to police, but added that the vetting process is "critical" for foreign teachers.
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said yesterday that a reduced budget allocation for The College of The Bahamas in 2013/2014 will have no impact on the quality of service at the institution.
The College of The Bahamas has been allocated $21.5 million, a decrease of $3.5 million. This amounts to a reduction of around 14 percent.
COB and other agencies that get government subsidies were asked to reduce their reliance on government funding by 10 percent in the 2013/2014 fiscal year.
Fitzgerald said COB spent less than was budgeted for the college in the current fiscal year. He said the reduced amount given to the college in the upcoming fiscal year takes those savings into account.
"At the end of the day the cuts will not impact the delivery of services, and also we increased scholarships to ensure that those who are not able to afford or are in financial straights will be able to qualify for financial aid," Fitzgerald said.
"Even during this year's budget, the expenditure came in at a lot less than was anticipated. So essentially all of the government ministries actually spent less money than we had budgeted for. So I think when you look at what COB actually spent, at the end of the day the cut was more in line with what they actually spent as opposed to what was budgeted."
He said he does not expect students to complain about not being able to afford tuition and fees at COB because the government has increased funding for financial aid.
The government allocated $42.6 million to the Ministry of Education in the 2013/2014 fiscal year, a decrease of $6.5 million.
President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) Belinda Wilson told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that she is pleased with the government's commitment to higher education.
During his budget communication last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie said that under an agreement with the Caribbean Development Bank, the government has allocated $30 million for special education and transforming COB to university status, Christie said.
He also said the government plans to spend $5.5 million to construct more schools on the Family Islands.
Wilson said that while she believes the government has given education significant funding in the new fiscal year, she will monitor the spending carefully.
Debate on the budget is expected to begin this morning.
While Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald declined to comment specifically on the $400,000 salary request of Dr. Rodney Smith, the choice of The College of The Bahamas (COB) to be that institution's next president, he noted that he "authorized the COB Council to negotiate reasonable terms that are consistent with past contracts".
Fitzgerald, who was out of the country yesterday, said in a statement that the Cabinet only accepted the recommendation by the council to appoint Smith as president and is not responsible for the negotiations.
Fitzgerald pointed to a statement he made in August when he announced that the government accepted the COB Council's selection of Smith.
"Specifically, I used the words to the effect that I authorize the council to negotiate reasonable terms consistent with past contracts plus allowance for cost of living increases," he said. "That's what my statement authorized them to do, nothing more nothing less."
The $400,000 Smith is requesting is more than twice the salary of the most recent COB president, Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze.
In his August statement, Fitzgerald said, "I also wish to indicate that the Cabinet was also united in the view that if financial terms and benefits can be agreed with Dr. Smith that the term of the contract in the first instance should not exceed three years with the usual option to renew."
Fitzgerald commented on the matter after Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said the government should not reappoint Smith.
"I am not surprised by reports of Rodney Smith's shocking demand for a $400,000 annual salary and a $100,000 per year increment," said Cash when asked for comment.
On Monday, National Review revealed Smith's salary request.
St. Anne's MP Hubert Chipman agreed with Cash's statement when asked to comment on the matter yesterday.
Chipman said Smith's salary request is "absurd" and "excessive".
He said the entire ordeal could turn into an embarrassing situation for the government if the college can not come to terms with Smith's demands.
Smith left COB in 2005 amid a plagiarism scandal. Several observers suggested that he should not have been rehired.
Chipman said the "government was putting the cart before the horse," when it announced Smith as the successful presidential candidate before negotiations were completed.
Chipman said while he would not suggest a particular salary range, based on his investigations of comparable colleges in the United States, Smith should not receive such a hefty salary.
"I just think the $400,000 is excessive," he said.
"I really do not put a value on what you should be paid...but when you look at The Bahamas itself and even try to compare it to U.S. schools...I think it's absurd. I think it's out of scope."
The government allocated $18 million this fiscal year for COB, down from $21 million last year.
After more than a week of disruptions at Stephen Dillet and Uriah McPhee primary schools, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald assured parents and teachers of both schools that there is no "threat to their health and safety".
Officials from the Ministry of Education, the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) toured both schools yesterday.
Fitzgerald said with the exception of cleaning the vents, which is ongoing, work at both schools has been completed.
"We expect by the end of this week or next week Monday to inspect the duct work, and to make sure that the air conditioning system is working as it is now," Fitzgerald told administrators and PTA officials at Stephen Dillet Primary School.
"This school has been functioning from last Wednesday... The same thing applies for Uriah McPhee.
"That is up and ready. The contractor completed the repairs on the air conditioning units at that school yesterday (Saturday)."
Fitzgerald said on Friday the air conditioning unit at Uriah McPhee Primary School was "sabotaged" multiple times, forcing education officials to close the school for another day.
He said yesterday that those repairs have been made and there should be no problems moving forward with the security personnel in place.
The Ministry of Education closed the primary schools last Friday because of several health issues and malfunctioning air conditioning units.
Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson claimed the schools also have mold, as well as rodent and termite infestation.
The schools opened earlier this week after Fitzgerald said the Ministry of Environment gave the all-clear.
However, the union continued to express concerns about conditions at both schools. Union representatives were not present yesterday.
BUT President Belinda Wilson could not be reached for comment.
The union had its own assessment conducted by Enviro-Clean Company on September 14. Fitzgerald has dismissed that report.
In its report, the company said the air conditioning units and vents on each floor of Stephen Dillet are "extremely dirty, pushing out dust and contaminants".
The company noted that in an opening connecting the second and third floors, exposed fiberglass was used to fix the ceiling and overall Stephen Dillet "is not fit or worthy to open for public use".
During yesterday's tour of Stephen Dillet, Fitzgerald told PTA President Mandel Miller he did not want any misconceptions about the Department of Environmental Health Services' (DEHS) assessment of both schools.
That report was conducted last week Tuesday.
In its report, the DEHS said it is "satisfied notwithstanding the balance of works to be carried out that [Uriah McPhee and Stephen Dillet primary schools] do not pose an imminent danger to teachers and students.
Following the tour, Miller said in a separate interview that the PTA was satisfied the majority of health concerns it had raised have been resolved.
"I believe that the environment can now be conducive for effective learning and as a work area for our teachers," said.
"I would like to encourage all of the stakeholders of Stephen Dillet to now let's get back to the business of educating and developing the young children here."
Stephen Dillet's principal, Sheila Scavella, told The Nassau Guardian the sit-in and closures over the last two weeks have not had a major impact on the school and its students.
"During the industrial action, school kept right on as normal," she said. "We had administrators and other teachers who were making sure that our students had instructions throughout the day.
Information technology and security student, Gerrard Russell, will be one of five Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute students heading to Canada in January to continue studies on an Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarship.
Russell, who will study information technology at Fanshawe College, in London, Ontario, Canada, along with Ketely Brown who will pursue studies in the same field, but at Holland College; Elkeno Jones who will study electrical at Holland College, Valentino Burrows, who will study solar thermal energy at Holland College, Rashad Morely, who will study electrical at Vancouver Island University, received the scholarships through the Canadian government. The scholarships are for students from Latin America and the Caribbean.
The scholarships are short-term opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The purpose is to support the development of human capital and the next generation of leaders in the Americas, which strengthens linkages between post-secondary schools in Canada with Latin America and the Caribbean. The scholarship value varies between ($7,200 and $9,700 Canadian) depending on the duration and level of study for students, according to whether the course of study is four months for college and undergraduate students, or for a period of five or six months of study or research. And cover visa and or study/work permit expenses; funding for the most economical round trip economy class airfare; funding for health insurance; monthly living allowance and required books, supplies and equipment, not including computers.
The student exchange, which began in 2009, requires BTVI students to be full-time and following the experience, they are to return to BTVI to complete their studies.
Russell, a former student of C.C. Sweeting Senior School, who has been enrolled at BTVI for a year-and-a-half, is excited about the opportunity to study abroad. He departs for Canada on December 31, and plans to make the most of the opportunity, especially after he "messed around and threw opportunities out of the window."
He credits an employee at a school for gifted children who told him he could be whatever he wanted to be. That proved to be a light bulb moment for him. And besides God, Russell gives credit to his networking instructor Anthony Ramtula who inspired him to go beyond the ordinary.
"He kicked me into gear. He is brutally honest. He would also teach for hours straight, motivating me to be better than him. I've never met anyone like him," said Russell, who aspires to be a security auditor.
"Coming from nothing, this could only be God," said the 24-year-old who grew up in Chippingham with his parents Anthony and Melanie Russell and his siblings. His 20-year-old brother Ammad is also a student at BTVI.
"I won't disappoint BTVI. I'm just a person who wants to be the best."
And Russell is more than ready to make the leap from BTVI's 1,700 student campus to the approximately 15,000 full-time students he will meet at Fanshawe's main campus.
"This is the opportunity to show the naysayers that God can do everything. I won't let this opportunity slide," he said.
Russell, who said he has already started packing, said he also views the opportunity to study abroad as a chance to become more independent.
The BTVI student is a 3.73 cumulative grade point average student, a far cry from the less than 2.00 average he had when he left high school.
The reason for his change -- life -- and being under bosses who screamed at him made him realize there was more to life. He also did not want to fall prey to the lure of illegal activities. The young man who said he decided to take responsibility for his actions names Dr. Ben Carson, who at one point could not read, but went on to become the world's first black pediatric surgeon as an inspiration to him.
BTVI's manager and consultant, Dr. Iva Dahl told the five students to make BTVI proud and to remain focused on their courses of study. She also encouraged the students to expand their horizons and integrate with other cultures, opening themselves to the international experience.
The C.R. Walker Knights senior girls have done it again!
They made it five straight on Saturday past, and seven out of 11, as they held on for a 30-26 win over the C.V. Bethel Stingrays in the third and final game of their Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA) championship series. The Knights turned in a strong collective performance in a wire-to-wire victory at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, on Saturday, but the Stingrays didn't go away easily. After winning game two of the series, the Stingrays came into game three confident of their chances, but just couldn't overcome a poor start. They executed a frantic 17-4 run late in the game, but time ran out on them, and the Lady Knights celebrated another GSSSA basketball title. It was the kind of birthday present that Head Coach Ken Lightbourne said that he will never forget.
"When we started this streak, I would have been happy with just one, but every one afterwards is like a must-win. It feels so good to get five," said Lightbourne on Saturday evening. "I have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for helping us along and pulling us through. This feels so great. It's my birthday, and it's the best birthday present ever."
As mentioned, it certainly wasn't easy though. The senior girls series was the only of the four GSSSA divisions to go to the limit, and even thought they built a sizable lead in the decisive third game, the Knights still experienced difficulty in putting away the resilient Stingrays. The Stingrays trailed by 17 points in the second half but kept chipping away at the lead. They eventually got to within four points in the final minute of the game, but didn't have enough time to complete the comeback.
"I just told the girls to keep fighting," said Stingrays' Head Coach Glenda Gilcud. "If they wanted it, they had to go out there and fight for it, and they did that. We just came up a little short. For the most part, the officiating tonight was very poor. If you are going to allow the girls to play, let's play with fairness. Let's stop being biased!
"Otherwise, I think that my girls did a tremendous job. What hurt us today is that my main player was in foul trouble from the start. We felt like that's a championship that we should have had but those things happen. When it's a championship like this, I feel that we should be playing stop time and not running time. I think that cost us as well. Our girls were working hard from day one and to lose like this is unfortunate."
Angel Miller paced the 12 points in the decisive third game on Saturday, and Shavonya Adderley added 10. Atlanya Morris led the Knights with a game-high 14 points and Burdaera Sands contributed nine.
"The key today was trying to contain number 2 (Adderley)," said Knights' coach Lightbourne. "She is an awesome player. She really rallies her team, and her team rallies behind her. We had to take her out of the game. Once we did that and forced other players to beat us, we were okay. We slacked off a lot in the end and almost paid the price. I think fatigue settled in. The girls played a lot of basketball and it showed in the end. C.V. is a young team and they have quick legs. I have to take my hat off to them. They played well and gave us all we could handle."
The other three divisions in the GSSSA ended on Friday in two game sweeps. In the junior girls division, the H.O. Nash Lions completed a two-game sweep of the A.F. Adderley Tigers, in the junior boys division, the T.A. Thompson Scorpions ended the reign of the D.W. Davis Pitbulls, and in the senior boys division, the C.I. Gibson Rattlers won its second straight one-point game over the C.C. Sweeting Cobras, to end that series in two straight games. In both of those games, the Cobras had late leads, but couldn't hold off the charging Rattlers.
"My team really played hard in the last five minutes of those games," said Rattlers' Head Coach Kevin 'KJ' Johnson. "We weren't consistent but we pulled it off. Some of the players didn't step up like they were supposed to, but we were good enough to win and that is what matters. Hats off to C.C. They gave us a good series. Coming down to the end, we just were mentally tough, and showed a lot of desire and passion. We were determined to go out there and win and that is what we did."
Cobras' Head Coach Mario Bowleg said that it was a tough pill to swallow, but his boys will bounce back for the Hugh Campbell tournament and the national championships being staged by the Sports Unit of the Ministry of Education.
"We knew that it was going to be a very tough uphill battle, and it was," said Bowleg. "We played them four times this season and all of the games were close. All season long, they had the will to take the games away from us, or we would literally just give away the games. Taking nothing away from C.I. because they played with a lot of heart, but we have to find a way to execute better when the game is on the line. We continue to turn over the ball with just seconds left in games and we have to work on that."
Both coaches assured that their squads will be ready for the annual Hugh Campbell classic and the nationals. As for the GSSSA championships, for the first time, it was sponsored by BTC in conjunction with Cable Bahamas and the sports unit of the Ministry of Education. Jackie Adderley, assistant to Vice President of Brand and Communications at BTC Marlon Johnson, said that the telecommunications giant is all about helping out the youth of the country and they saw these championships as an opportunity to do that.
In order to alleviate fears over difficulties in adjusting prices on certain goods when both new duty rates and the value-added tax (VAT) are introduced in January 2015, the government is touting something called a "virtual warehouse" system, but businesses must notify the government within the next two weeks that they intend to use the system.
At the Public Treasury Building on Thursday, UK-based tax consultant Dean Wootten explained the new system to lawyers, tourism officials, accountants and members of the retail community who have spent the last few days at "VAT school".
Virtual warehouse system
For those using the virtual warehouse, goods purchased between November 1, 2013 and December 31, 2014 will not incur duty on entry. These goods when sold will attract the new duty rates, which will be due to the government along with the appropriate VAT and a summary of the year-end inventory before the end of February 2015.
Wootten stressed the shortness of the time businesses have to notify the government of their intent to use the virtual warehouse system.
In order to be able to participate, businesses must notify the government of their intent to do so by September 30, 2014.
"That [deadline] is too tight, but I'm sure it will be relaxed," Wootten said.
Participation in the system will depend on a number of criteria, highlights of which include a requirement to provide a detailed summary of inventory held as at December 31, 2014; a requirement that this inventory be verified by a Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) licensed accountant whose name must be given to the government at the same time as notification of intent to use the system and a requirement that access be granted to the comptroller or an agent thereof.
If the goods are sold before January 2015, the old duty rates will apply.
Financial Secretary John Rolle acknowledged those concerns.
"The approach that the Ministry of Finance is taking... is one where there is some leniency... [for] businesses through the month of January," he said.
"There may be some hiccups in terms of not getting all of the old price stickers off, but what we're saying is that businesses should begin in the month leading up to January [to] begin to display what those VAT-inclusive prices will be"
Meanwhile, Wootten highlighted another feature of the VAT regime. The flat rate scheme is intended to lessen the administrative burden on businesses with a taxable turnover of $400,000 or less, and who do not keep particularly detailed records. To be clear, there is no particular financial benefit to using the flat rate scheme. The potential does exist, however, for significant savings in administrative costs.
Flat rate scheme
The flat rate scheme allows businesses like small retail outlets that qualify to simply apply a flat net rate of VAT of 4.5 percent to their turnover to calculate the amount of VAT to be paid to the comptroller.
The scheme is outlined in version two of the government's VAT training manual, issued on September 11.
"The flat rate scheme is most beneficial to those that do not keep sufficiently detailed accounts. There is still a requirement to keep the necessary documentation as outlined in the VAT Bill to support your sales figures, but you do not need to keep an accurate record of your purchases/expenses," the manual advises.
How is the scheme different from the regular regime?
Normally, a business will charge 7.5 percent on the net price for the goods or service it sells, which is what the business then owes to the comptroller as output tax. The business will also incur VAT on certain purchases and expenses. Each VAT period, a business will offset its input tax - the amount of VAT paid on goods and services from its suppliers, where VAT has been charged - against its output tax, and pay the balance to the comptroller.
The VAT period is different for businesses of different size. Those with annual turnover of more than $5 million must submit a monthly VAT return. Businesses with turnover of between $400,000 and $5 million must submit quarterly VAT returns. Businesses with a turnover of $400,000 or less - such as those on the scheme - are required to file a semiannual VAT return.
Businesses on the flat rate scheme do not have to do that calculation every VAT period, but need only take the amount of turnover for the VAT period and multiply it by the flat rate of 4.5 percent. That rate is considered the average rate that a business would pay if they had used their records to determine the amount of VAT payable to the comptroller each VAT period. Therefore, those businesses might make a marginal gain or loss. Any savings they realize from being on the scheme would be mostly from administrative savings.
Once in, a business must stay in the scheme for two years, and any business with a turnover that exceeds $400,000 must leave the scheme.
Wootten noted that VAT in the UK is 20 percent, and that VAT in Europe goes up as high as 27 percent. VAT in the UK goes back into schools, roads and infrastructure.
"That's how we raise taxes to help the people in the UK, and that's pretty much what should be happening over here," Wootten said.
"It's a way of raising taxes to meet the needs of what the government need to do."
He acknowledged that despite this encomium, VAT is an unpopular tax.
"It is unpopular, but it's necessary, because it's how we run the government."
Thousands of New Providence residents were left bailing out their homes yesterday after record rainfall created widespread flooding, catching many people off guard.
The nasty weather pounded the island on Tuesday evening and into yesterday resulting in the closure of schools and some businesses.
Stalled-out vehicles littered the eastern and western portions of the island as the raging waters wreaked havoc.
Over on Paradise Island, the tunnel leading to Royal Towers was flooded by the thunderstorm.
Many businesses were also flooded.
Trevor Basden, senior deputy director at the Department of Meteorology, said 12.79 inches of rain were recorded at the Elizabeth Estates Police Station and 15.29 inches in the Camperdown area.
He added that on average 4.54 inches of rain fall in the month of May.
The worst of the flooding was in eastern New Providence.
Some residents said they had to abandon their homes Tuesday night.
Tow truck operator Donald Lloyd slept in his car with his son as bucket loads of rain water filled his Redland Acres home.
Lloyd said when he entered his house yesterday morning to survey the damage he was shocked by what he saw.
The water rose above his knees and nearly everything in his house was submerged beneath the dirty, oily water.
Lloyd, who installed a drain in his yard a little over a year ago to prevent flooding, said he has never seen so much rain settle in that area.
"I've been living here since I was about a year old," he said. "It's never been this bad."
Lloyd said most of the appliances in his house were destroyed.
"My TV, my fridge, the bed and all of that is gone," he said.
The Bahamas Department of Meteorology noted that the system that passed over the Northwest and Central Bahamas resulted in severe thunderstorms, strong gusty winds, dangerous lightning and waterspouts.
Lloyd said his home started to fill with water around 8 p.m. He said by 10 p.m. he was forced to take refuge in his car.
"The area is a low-lying area and the two or three governments knew that for years, but no one has come to deal with it," he said.
Lloyd said area residents were forced to block the road to prevent moving vehicles from pushing more water into their homes.
"We also had to shut down everything in all the houses in this area because the water is up to the [outlets], to make sure that no one got hurt," he added.
His house was one of dozens of homes in that area that flooded.
Kevin Johnson, 44, a dump truck driver, was waist deep in water when he walked into his home yesterday morning.
Johnson, who has been unemployed for the last several months, said he cannot afford to replace anything that was destroyed.
"I'm very [upset] because I was [already] low on cash," Johnson said.
"My house is low so when the rain came it's just like my $100 gone down the drain because [the groceries] that I bought for the week are underwater. Now I don't know how I'll eat for the week."
Johnson said he was unable to save much as the water came into his house very quickly.
"There was nothing I could do," he said.
"I rest the TV on the counter and I'm running a drop cord through the house because I just paid someone to get a little bit of [power] from them. I got an [electrical shock] when I put the drop cord up on higher ground."
The cords were resting atop a cooler in the living room.
Johnson nailed a long piece of wood in front of his door when the rain first started but the barrier was no match for the flood waters.
Johnson said the flood resulted in thousands of dollars in damage.
"The TV stand and fridge and my brand new bed are underwater. All my clothes are underwater with oil and grease...I'm flooded out and I'm hungry now," he said.
Johnson said he's hoping that the Department of Social Services will assist him.
Johnson's neighbor Wade Riley faced a similar dilemma. He said he was asleep when the rain started.
"I woke up about 10:30 p.m. and stepped in water," Riley said. "I had to go and try to turn off all the appliances, but I woke up too late because the fridge was already destroyed.
"I tried to secure the door so the water could stop coming in, but I couldn't stop it. The whole house is flooded."
In Pinewood Gardens, an area prone to flooding, residents said the water rose higher than ever.
Porsha King, a resident of Saffron Street, said she will probably be scooping water out of her house for days.
King shares the home with her family members, including six children who had to be evacuated early yesterday morning during the thunderstorm.
One of King's relatives, who only wanted to be identified as Mary Jane, said she and her family had to take the children out of the flooded house on their backs around 1 a.m.
"We went to the (neighboring) church, but the church wasn't open. Then we had to take them there on our backs," she said, pointing towards a black Hyundai Jeep.
The rain continued to fall yesterday as hundreds of residents cleaned up their homes.
The system was expected to be out of The Bahamas by early this morning.
When nine-year-old Edwin Simmons went to live with his aunt and guardian, Dora Chisolm, she told him that attending college was in his future, but she didn't know how he was going to get there. Edwin is now one of 30 students who have been accepted into the newly-launched Lyford Cay Foundation education enrichment program called FOCUS (Forward and Onward to College. Upward to Success.), which targets deserving, motivated, fourth grade public school students with the goal of setting them on a path to college and career success.
Nassau, Bahamas - More than 600
primary school students, parents, teachers and volunteers turned out to turn
pages at the 5th Annual Reading Fair hosted by the Rotary Club of
Nassau Sunrise on Saturday, March 12 at The College of The Bahamas' Band Shell
With a goal
of rousing excitement about reading and the importance of staying in school,
the club and supporters, including Bank of The Bahamas, took time to read to
students from six primary schools located near COB...
definitely want to thank corporate Bahamas and other service organizations for
responding so well not with cash donations but with donations in kind," said
Rotary Club of Nassau Sunrise president Karen Pinder...