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News Article
BFSB 'millennials society' to develop young workforce

The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) is set to launch its latest "people power" initiative in the form of the Bahamas Millennials Society, a club of financial services professionals with a goal of ensuring the brightest and the best young employees are retained within the sector.
According to a series of surveys in recent years, "millennials" - those born between 1980 and 1995 - represent a powerful generation of workers who actively influence they way they work. Employers around the world are sitting up and taking notice. They have to: Realistically, the millennial generation will form the majority of the workforce by 2020.
BFSB CEO Aliya Allen said, "Addressing the need for homegrown future industry leaders and capitalizing on the pool of talent already present within the financial services sector, BFSB has determined to look at how we can develop and retain the millennial workers within the sector."
To this end, BFSB has formed a Millennials Planning Committee, with the objective of formally launching the society at a forum within the first half of the year.
Allen added, "In a recent survey, over half of millennium respondents said training and development is the most valuable benefit they see in the next five years of their professional development. And, 98 percent of all respondents said working with coaches and mentors is an important development opportunity. This ties in perfectly with our plans."
A key component of the membership benefits will be regular meetings to promote networking amongst the millennials, and mentor presentations on topics of interest to this generation of workers.
Allen said, "It is an indisputable fact that one has to capture both the hearts and minds of the millennial worker. It cannot be business as usual. We look to our member firms to support this initiative, fully recognizing that this is the generation that will drive the sector forward in the coming years."
The BFSB said the initiative fits with its ongoing drive to develop human capital within the sector.

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News Article
BFSB elects Rahming as chairman

Prince Rahming, territory senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been elected as the new chairman of the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB), replacing Paul Winder who was chair of the 15-year-old, private sector-led organization that represents and promotes all sectors of the country's broad-ranging financial services industry.
Rahming's selection as chair was made during a BFSB board of directors meeting last week.
The board also elected C. James Schaefer, chief operating officer, Old Fort Financial, as co-deputy chair, along with Timothy Colclough, vice president, Butterfield Trust, who has been serving as deputy chair for the last year.
"I have great respect and admiration for what BFSB represents and what it has accomplished as the front edge of the industry's development and promotion efforts," said Rahming. "I am honored to be elected BFSB's chairman and look forward to building on its accomplishments, and I will be reaching out to members for their support and advice."
BFSB CEO and Executive Director Aliya Allen said, "Prince Rahming brings extensive international experience and insight from his many years working in Switzerland, New York and here. He follows in the footsteps of the many outstanding chairmen who have guided BFSB in the past. The depth and experience of our industry has bred a leadership pool of highly talented senior executives which has been a great benefit to BFSB and the country in general in our efforts to keep The Bahamas at the leading edge of international financial services. Prince's expertise and leadership skills will be of tremendous value to BFSB and the industry as we continue to press The Bahamas Advantage internationally and examine fresh and innovative industry development strategies."
Winder, who will remain on the board, was also thanked by Ms. Allen for his "outstanding contributions to BFSB."
Rahming began his career with PwC Bahamas in September 1991. Twenty years later in 2011, after increasingly senior positions with PwC in New York and Switzerland with a four-year stint with PwC Bahamas squeezed between his international postings, he became the territory senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bahamas (PwC Bahamas).
During his 10-year stay with PwC Switzerland, Prince served in various capacities including acting as a lead banking auditor for the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and made significant contributions to the success and growth of that firm's financial services practice in Geneva. As the territory senior partner of PwC Bahamas, he leads the firm, and brings extensive knowledge and international experience in financial services to the local partnership.

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News Article
Second home rentals should pay tax

Dear Editor,
With the recent letter sent out to second homeowners on Eleuthera, an old debate has been given new life.
There are those who don't want to "offend" the second homeowners who are seen to bring money to the islands in the form of tourism, but this hotel guest tax is passed on to the guest, which is then passed on to our community.
The amount of rooms now available for rent via the second homeowner market far exceeds the number of actual hotel rooms on the island and as such, those rooms should be seen as a "hotel" in itself.
For far too long, second homeowners have not been licensed and not paid hotel guest tax as required by law. Some of them have been told by website owners that they don't have to pay it "because they will never get caught"or the "Bahamian government will never get it together enough to enforce the law."
As we are staring down the face of VAT, it is time to take control and enforce the laws that we already have. We are leaving so much money on the table right now, and it is time to wake up. It is important for the community and it is the law.
Back to the topic of second home rentals, a few non-Bahamians set up websites and convinced homeowners to list their properties on Eleuthera. Although this is illegal, according to Bahamian law, these extremely successful operations have flourished because no local person has had the wherewithal to create a competitor and our government, whether by inattentiveness or by design, looked the other way.
According to several sources, one site is generating in excess of $300,000 [a] month in rental income, netting its operator $30,000 in commission per month. The fine alone for the properties listed on one website amounts to $7.9 million for just the year 2013. There needs to be accountability both on the part of the government, the homeowners and the locals. The time for blaming others has to end. This is no one's fault and everyone's fault.
The law since 2009 states that any property that rents out one bedroom or more must be licensed and must pay hotel guest tax. This tax is 10 percent and is passed onto the guest and then forwarded to the government at the end of the month.
The form is extremely simple to fill out and many people pay their hotel taxes in cash at the administrator's office. The more difficult part is getting licensed. In order to be licensed, the home will need to be inspected, and many second homes that are in the rental pool will not pass that inspection.
Sure, the homes that rent out for $15,000 [a] week will probably pass inspection but those that rent for less might have deferred maintenance, which will preclude passing the inspection. Does every room have a smoke detector? Do you have fire extinguishers (inspected and tagged) by each stove? Do you have a pest control contract? Do you have reliable power and clean water? Do your air conditioners work? Do you have doors that lock? Do you have either phone or Internet that is on? Those are just some of the things that homeowners will need to comply with to get licensed and I venture to guess that many will not pass.
Having homes inspected will ensure that many of the guest complaints will cease because most of them have to do with cleanliness, lack of water, AC, power and lack of security. We have all heard about the filthy homes, robberies, lack of clean water and lack of guest services at rental homes. This is not just a problem of the homeowners and their renters, this problem affects all of us.
The money collected from hotel guest taxes is shared between the local government and Nassau, 50/50. The estimated amount of guest tax not collected from rentals since the beginning of 2013 is over $100,000. Sure, it is probably a lot more, but do you think that our settlement could use $50,000?
The claim that the online rental service providers have increased tourism to our island is false, according to United Airlines, American Airlines, Ministry of Tourism and Expedia. The guests are simply being diverted from local hotels and inns to rental homes.
Again, it is illegal for non-Bahamians to transact any real estate business, whether they are in the United States or any other country. The homeowners who list their properties for rent with anyone who is not Bahamian are breaking the law. Some of the website owners try to subvert the law by using a Bahamian shill and some don't even do that, going so far as to boast that the Bahamian government will do nothing to stop them.
This is a problem for all of us. If you own a home and receive rental income, you need to be licensed and registered and you need to pay hotel guest tax. Period.If you have a child who is being educated in one of our schools, you are affected by the lack of money going back into our community. If you are a non-Bahamian website owner, you are in violation of Bahamian law and you have misrepresented yourself to your clients.
I have heard from many homeowners that they were told not to register and not to pay hotel guest tax because the government wouldn't do anything about it. Whoever has said that should be ashamed and should be held accountable.
The hotel guest tax is just another piece of the puzzle. Are we going to protect and care for our country or are we going to rape her and destroy her for today's gains?
If you are buying crawfish out of season, if you are doing shoddy work, if you are not caring for an animal, if you are charging someone too much, if you are being rude to tourists and if you are looking the other way while your neighbor takes a "payment", you are part of the problem.
Are we a nation of talkers or doers? All of these things take care and action on our part. The problem is not only the homeowners, the problem is all of us for being too lazy to enforce the law and for allowing there to be a hole in the market that needs to be filled.
Any Bahamian could do the same thing that the website owners are doing, but will we do the work or will we sit back and blame others for our lack of prosperity? -- Concerned Citizens

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News Article
Are we there yet

First published April 11, 2012

After a couple years of carrying the burden imposed by a seemingly relentless global economic recession, the whole world, and indeed The Bahamas, is optimistically watching for signs that the storm has past and some type of sustainable recovery is on the way.
There is understandably an eagerness to seize any positive information on the economy, anecdotal or otherwise, and hold it up as incontrovertible evidence that the economic downturn is over and recovery is on the way.
Over the past few weeks a number of positive and upbeat reports on the economy have appeared in the local press. A new business venture has been started; some restaurant chain has added another branch; a recently constructed strip mall has reported full occupancy; air-lift capacity to the country has been expanded; a smaller than expected fiscal deficit has been reported; and in the commercial banking sector, the rate of increase in non-performing loans has moderated.
Taken together, those isolated reports would ordinarily be regarded as a source of inspiration -- a reason to rejoice in the expectation of a brighter economic future for the country. But these are not ordinary times.

Challenges remain
We are now living in a time where some fundamental structural changes have occurred in the economy and unless and until those issues related to the changes are appropriately addressed, the outlook for the economy must be looked at through a cautionary prism.
A closer examination of some of the dark clouds on the horizon would tend to support a cautious approach. To begin with, the continuous rise in oil prices remains a stumbling block to any sustained recovery. Increased oil prices affect not only local motorists by reducing the amount of resources that they have to spend on other goods and services, oil price increases also affect the cost of utilities in The Bahamas and the cost of travel to The Bahamas.
Increased travel costs and higher utility bills at our hotels could restrain the growth of our tourist industry and extend the time for laid-off workers to return to the industry. In other words, the current challenges with the unemployment problem, possibly now in the high teens, would persist. An effective plan to significantly reduce the unemployment level is perhaps one of the most urgent requirements for the restoration of economic growth and development.
And, even if we were to magically reduce the level of unemployment in the country and at the same time provide meaningful jobs for all who were willing and able to work, there would still remain formidable barriers to growth and development.
One major obstacle would be the levels of both public and private sector debt. The public sector debt which is approaching $4.5 billion, more than 50 percent of GDP, would in time constrain the government's ability to provide the same level of services (contributions to GDP) because of the resources that would have to be diverted to debt service.
Private sector debt (households and businesses), which stands at approximately $6.6 billion or about 80 percent of GDP, has become a problem for the commercial banking sector in that more than $1 billion of the loans are in arrears.
What this means is that a high percentage of any new income from the magically-created jobs would have to be applied to debt-servicing instead of normal expenditure in the economy to promote economic growth. It follows, therefore, that another major objective of any economic growth policies would have to take account of the debt overhang in both the private and public sectors.

The construction sector
So far we have noted the potential threat to our main economic sector, tourism, as a result of continually rising oil prices. Additionally, we examined the challenges being faced by our domestic financial services sector. The only other significant sector that contributes in a meaningful way to economic growth is the construction industry, which accounts for about 10 percent of our GDP.
Small and medium-sized construction companies, which build the majority of single-family homes, tend to employ a large pool of skilled and unskilled technical labor and accordingly make a valuable contribution to the economic development effort.
Given the historically high level of non-performing mortgage loans (20 percent at the commercial banks and 40 percent at the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation) there is a glut of houses on the market at generally reduced prices and it is unlikely that we will see an appreciable increase in new home construction over the medium-term.
Indeed, there is a need for some special housing market programs aimed at not only increasing construction starts but also in assisting delinquent homeowners to keep their properties.
Since our major economic sectors, tourism, banking and construction are unlikely to experience any significant rebound over the short-term, it would appear that it is too early to take a victory lap and it is not yet the time to proclaim that our mission to restore the economy has been accomplished.

o CFAL is a sister company of The Nassau Guardian under the AF Holdings Ltd. umbrella. CFAL provides investment management, research, brokerage and pension services. For comments, please contact CFAL at: column@cfal.com.

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News Article
NPSA Standings

Games played through Tuesday, August 17, 2010
LADIES

W L
PROPER CARE POOL LADY SHARKS 10 2
PINEAPPLE AIR WILDCATS 7 3
BOMMER G. OPERATORS 6 4
SIGMA BRACKETTES

5 7
BLACK SCORPIONS

0 12
MEN

W L
COMMANDO SECURITY TRUCKERS 9 1
DORIN UNITED HIT MEN 9 1
Y-II SHIPPING NEW BREED 8 2
FREEDOM FARM HORSEMEN 6 2
T&C EXPRESS OUTLAWS 5 5
DEL SOL ARAWAKS

2 7
DORSEY PARK BOYZ

2 9
JOHN'S BUCCANEERS

1 7
MIGHTY MITTS

0 8
Tuesday's Results
Dorsey Park Boyz 15, Mighty Mitts 11
Del Sol Arawaks 7, John's Buccaneers 3
Thursday August 19, 2010
No games scheduled due to the Memorial Service for Ron'Figure'Wood
Friday August 20, 2010
7:00 p.m. Mighty Mi ...

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News Article
Baha Mar foreign labor to 'peak' by Q2

Just under one year out from the targeted opening date, Baha Mar is continuing to "progress and achieve its milestones", according to an executive, even as the company anticipates bringing in a further 500 foreign laborers to finish work on the project.
Providing an update on the status and impact of the mega-development, Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Administration and External Affairs Robert Sands said that since construction began in February 2011 "over $600 million worth of work" has been put out to bid to Bahamian firms, and over $300 million awarded - a "huge achievement", he said.
2,600 jobs have been created for Bahamians, including 155 full time employees to date.
3,000 work permits have been granted by the government; less than the amount first projected to be needed.
Sands said that as the development ramps up into the final stages of completion, the number of foreign laborers is "expected to peak by the first and second quarters", reaching an estimated 3,500, before beginning to decrease.
These workers will be undertaking finishing and "very specialized work", said the senior executive, and will be drafted in to ensure "we have the requisite manpower to meet the deadlines for December 2014".
To date, $160 million in further work expected to be awarded to Bahamian firms is "still under negotiation", said the senior vice president.
Over the course of the next year, the development expects to hire 4,000 permanent hotel workers, 3,000 shy of the 7,000 that will be needed once the "total employment and stabilization" of the resort is achieved, he explained.
Among the works still to be undertaken at the resort, scheduled to open on December 2014, include a "significant amount" of external work, such as pools, a beach sanctuary and an entry lake, which Sands described as "very major" projects.
The "closing up" of the hotels is making "good progress", said Sands, while the golf course and accompanying club house are "coming to completion".
A generator farm, waste water treatment plant and BEC substations have already been completed, while still to be established or undertaken are a laundry facility, warehouses, the installation of telecommunications infrastructure, the final phase of the beach renourishment project and the 70-acre nature preserve, said Sands.
"We are very satisfied that the goals, aspirations and vision established by our principals are in fact being achieved and will in fact come to reality come December 2014. We are committed to being that transformative project that will help The Bahamas become the iconic tourism destination once again and we believe we are well on the way. Certainly our brand leadership is in place and they are working hard to ensure we all achieve greatness by the time we open," said Sands.
Sands pointed to the "topping off" - an event celebrating the completion of construction of the hotels to their highest vertical point - in February 2013 as a major milestone that signified the development being "fifty percent complete".
Other works completed to date include the opening of the new corridor seven, Baha Mar Boulevard, coastal defense works, the Skyline substation and the establishment of a central utilities plant.
On the hiring front, Sands pointed to the outreach to an estimated 6,000 professionals and students in The Bahamas and abroad by Baha Mar recruiters, and the over 9,000 resumes in the Baha Mar database to date as a sign that the resort is progressing towards a goal of hiring 4,000 permanent staff in 2014 - just under 60 percent of the estimated total that will be required.
These staff will be brought on "as needed" throughout the year, said Sands, with this dictated by operational requirements on the part of the individual hotels.
"The two opportunities that are ahead are to ensure we complete the project in December 2014, and we have no doubt that we will; and our second opportunity will be as we expand our employee base from its current levels while keeping this Baha Mar culture intact, and then being in a position to deliver world class service to our many new customers that will come to our shores."
Many are pinning hopes of a modest economic recovery in 2014, which would strengthen in 2015, on the completion and opening of Baha Mar by its scheduled December 31, 2014 start date.
Hopes are that the additional permanent employment stimulated will boost consumer demand, and start to alleviate the persistently high levels of non-performing loans, which have in turn dampened banks' taste for lending.
In November, Nassau Container Port CEO Mike Maura Jr., elaborating on results in the company's annual report for 2013, told Guardian Business that the amount of imports associated with Baha Mar were "less than half" of that anticipated by the port based on discussions with those working on the project.
Maura said that the port had been advised "for well over a year" to expect an influx of imports associated with the project, but this had yet to materialize.
"What has happened is that the container volumes have been less than half and the majority of project-related cargo has been bulk aggregate and cement" rather than furniture and fittings and other more high value types of imports, said Maura.
The CEO said that given that Baha Mar continues to promote a December 31, 2014 opening, he expected a "huge surge" of imports this year.
Commenting on Maura's statements on Friday, Sands said that the lower volume of imports could relate to the fact that a "significant amount of Bahamian product" has been utilized in the construction to date.
"Every single block in that building was manufactured locally in The Bahamas. For the concrete work, we have our own batching plant here in the country. As we move closer to opening the importation of the finished type materials will accelerate greatly. The estimated value of the goods anticipated (to be imported) will be realized," added Sands.

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News Article
Small business development

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

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News Article
A good move by the government to seek crime-fighting advice

It came as a surprise on Monday when the government announced that it was to speak with of the most famous police officers in the world. William Bratton is a former chief of the New York City Transit Police, Boston police commissioner, New York City police commissioner and chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. He has been credited with helping reduce crime levels in those major jurisdictions.

Bratton, who is now chairman of the New York-based risk consultancy company Kroll, met yesterday with government and police officials to discuss crime-fighting strategies. It remains to be seen if Bratton will be contracted to conduct a full strategic review of the crime situation in The Bahamas.

At a news conference yesterday, though, he gave some good advice to current and future politicians and current and future leaders of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).

"To deal with the issue of crime and public safety requires first and foremost political leadership that is committed to dealing with it, and secondly police leadership and organization that is capable of being creative in dealing with it," said Bratton at Police Headquarters.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest said yesterday that the engagement of outside help in the crime fight is not an admission that the government has failed in this area. Instead, they argued that it is another tool in the government's crime fighting arsenal.

With four murder records in five years and significant rises in various property crime categories over the same five-year period, more serious intervention is needed. Bratton's success in major U.S. cities, which had serious violent crime problems, would be useful. Anyone who suggests the contrary is being disingenuous or excessively partisan.

For all that has been tried the last few years, we have not yet found the right mix of policy initiatives to reduce crime in The Bahamas, particularly in New Providence. And we should all realize that no one"catchy slogan solution"will solve our problem overnight.

While we agree that Bratton's advice would be useful, we hope the government adds to that advice the opinions of distinguished retired police officers of good standing from The Bahamas.

There are many retired officers who are nationalists and they would happily give advice to help the force in the crime fight. They have always loved The Bahamas and would answer the call from a Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)or Free National Movement (FNM) administration to help the country. A combined pool of expertise, from international and local sources, could help the leadership of the force and policymakers find new ways to address our crime problem.

What must be remembered, though, is that the police force is only one part of the criminal justice system. We would also advise the government to seek competent advice to reform the Office of the Attorney General and its relationship to the judicial system.

If police arrest more people and put together better cases, but the prosecutors can't prosecute them in a timely manner and the courts are unable to accommodate these trials, then little will change. We excessively blame police for the crime problem. The force is just one of the state agencies to respond to crime. The others must be equally scrutinized to ensure they are capable of carrying out their mandates.

Is the engagement of Bratton a criticism of Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade?No. Mother England with her famous police services called for Bratton's advice after riots in that country last year. Wise leaders and wise countries seek the advice and service of the best and brightest from around the world to make their countries better. We have a crime problem. We need to fix the problem. We should all welcome the advice of those who have been successful fixing crime problems elsewhere.

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News Article
A new dawn at Sandals

By DANA SMITH

dsmith@tribunemedia.net

AFTER a six-month, $17.5 million renovation, Sandals Royal Bahamian Resorts celebrated the official opening of its Balmoral Tower yesterday.

Damaged in Hurricane Irene, the former Manor Building has come back under a new name and was fully refurbished with "contemporary" rooms, a penthouse fitness centre with ocean views, personal butler service for every room, ground-floor rooms with patios, and sea front rooms with balconies.

On hand for the ceremony was Tourism and Aviation Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who praised Sandals for being an "enormous contributor" to the tourism industry, offering "high quality experiences" and ad ...

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News Article
Head bailiff: Jury panels made up mostly of women

After jury lists are vetted, more women remain on these lists than men.
According to Jack Davis, head bailiff in the Supreme Court, it is difficult to find men in the country with clean criminal records, who have no pending cases or who are not "strung out on drugs".
Davis told The Nassau Guardian that registered voters could potentially serve on juries after personnel from the Criminal Records Office confirm they have clean records.
Davis said that bailiffs also disqualify more men from the lists when they go to serve summonses and find that the men are on drugs.
Although jurors are chosen by a lottery system, the odds of a predominantly female jury are high, Davis said.  He added that a judge recently excluded a prospective male juror after it was discovered that he was illiterate.
Davis said that most jurors fear reprisals from defendants and are unhappy about the long walk from designated parking at the main post office to downtown.  According to the head bailiff, some jurors have complained that they have encountered defendants on bail while walking to and from the courts.  He also explained that jurors don't like that their names are called during jury selection, as they fear that defendants will remember them.
Jurors also complain about the conditions in the jury room, the head bailiff said.  He acknowledged that sometimes water comes up from the floor in the main Supreme Court building and the bathrooms don't work.  At present, he said, jurors are unable to make tea because the kettle is not working.
According to Davis, there is inadequate seating for jurors in the newly refurbished criminal courts.  There are about 30 seats in each of these courts, but the prospective panel is composed of 48 persons.  Consequently, bailiffs have to scramble to secure additional seating, he said.
In cases with multiple defendants, Davis said the jury pool is often exhausted and bailiffs have to round up potential jurors from the streets.
Davis said jurors receive a stipend of $15 daily for their services, which is paid at the end of their three-month long tour.

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