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We read recently in a local daily that Dr. Perry Gomez, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) candidate for North Andros and the Berry Islands said that under a PLP government National Health Insurance (NHI) would be implemented within the first year of coming to office. While we are in the so-called 'silly season' and everyone and their brother are making promises, we would hope that some of the promises would be well reasoned outlining the attended cost and consequences for the wider community; the usual rhetoric is just not acceptable this time around. We believe that members of the Bahamian electorate are a bit more discerning than most politicians give them credit for.
What is NHI?
The issue of a National Health Insurance was first raised back in August 2002, when then Prime Minister Perry Christie appointed a 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission to review the feasibility of a National Health Insurance Plan. The committee was also mandated to determine the best way to make affordable healthcare available to all residents. The appointment of the committee was a step towards the fulfillment of the then government's promise to ensure that all patients receive the same access to healthcare regardless of their personal wealth or circumstances as outlined in the PLP's manifesto, 'Our Plan'. In 2004, the final report was released. It was the view of the committee that The Bahamas cannot afford to not have a National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme. The committee also stated that NHI had to be mandatory and would only work if the government had adequate funding.
We have no difficulty agreeing with those observations but would urge the authorities and the public to take a closer and more objective look at the proposal.
What is National Health Insurance? National Health Insurance is a form of social health insurance, which uses the principles of fund pooling and risk sharing to provide equity in access to care. Individuals pay an 'affordable' amount on a consistent basis and in return are able to have their healthcare needs provided for, regardless of cost.
It is envisioned that this 'cradle to the grave' national healthcare coverage will cover persons who are currently excluded from private insurance plans such as individuals with pre-existing illnesses, newborn babies and those over 65.
The 125-page NHI report outlined the following eight specific recommendations for the Cabinet's consideration:
1. National Health Insurance should be universal.
2. Legislation should stipulate the health insurance is compulsory for all residents.
3. National Health Insurance should be administered by the National Insurance Board.
4. A comprehensive benefits package should be offered.
5. Contributions should be set at a rate which is affordable for the majority.
6. Public and private providers should be offered the opportunity to join the National Health Insurance system.
7. All provider payment mechanisms should be considered for use with capitation being the preferred option. (Capitation is a provider payment mechanism in which providers are regularly paid a stipulated amount per person for whom they agree to provide services during a defined period of time.)
8. A percentage of revenues should be set aside for purposes that ensure the stability of National Health Insurance.
The present system in The Bahamas, which employed persons contribute to, is a form of social security. Our health system includes tax-funded care through government hospitals and clinics, and private care funded by direct user fees or private insurers. The incentives that exist include pension, invalidity assistance, medical incentives, maternity benefits, some income replacement, temporary and permanent disability benefits, and health coverage for occupational injuries. Basically, social health insurance currently exists only through the industrial injury component of NIB.
Recently, the present government implemented the National Prescription Drug Plan to assist some Bahamian residents, particularly the elderly and children under the age of 18 years. It is estimated that the cost of this program is currently running around $5 million; a figure which we expect to only increase in the future.
Healthcare costs are one of the more vexing and challenging issues facing countries today and according to the latest information on the subject, average cost in the last five years increased annually by more than 10 percent. With rapidly aging populations and the rising costs of modern medical technology, governments everywhere are finding it increasingly difficult to provide the funds required to meet healthcare needs of their respective populations. Given that position, we would hope that before any decision is made to move forward with universal health coverage, the authorities would prepare a detailed cost analysis to use as a guide. To do otherwise, we run the risk of committing to something which could surely place The Bahamas on an irreversible path to economic poverty.
Prior to 2008, it was estimated that only 51 percent of Bahamians had private health insurance. Today, given the challenging global economic environment, the impact on the local economy and increasing levels of unemployment, we estimate that number at around 40 percent based on the increasing payouts by insurance companies. For some, private insurance has become too expensive; persons in the lower income bracket and those living on the Family Islands are now less likely to have insurance coverage.
There are a number of questions that need answers. How much will this plan cost? (Back in 2004 estimates were pegged around $200 million-plus, which we felt were too low at that time). Who will pay for those who cannot afford to pay? What will be the impact on the private insurance industry? What impact will it have on the fiscal deficit? (This should be of particular relevance to future generations).
Historically, the Bahamian government has been a principal source of financing environmental and healthcare expenses for citizens of The Bahamas with an annual expenditure of over $267 million in the 2011/2012 budget or nearly 16 percent of total recurrent expenses which computes to almost four percent of the country revised GDP (another story for another day).
It is estimated that the private insurance companies spent nearly $230 million in 2011, which gives us a total healthcare expenditure bill of nearly $435 million or 5.4 percent of the revised GDP. In the 2004/2005 fiscal budget, the government allocated approximately $187 million for health expenditure. In 2004/2005 it was estimated that healthcare expenditure stood at approximately $340 million or 7.10 percent of GDP, of which $70 million was spent by the people, $102 million spent through private health insurance, and the rest by the government. In comparison, in 1985, total public expenditure amounted to approximately $56 million or only 2.70 percent of GDP.
It is our view, based on historical cost data and future projections, that the cost of a national healthcare plan going forward would be in the region of $500 million to $750 million; equivalent to nearly half of our recurrent expenditure and as such, would not leave much room for other important infrastructure projects.
We generally agree with the conclusion of the commission's report that a social health insurance system for The Bahamas would provide more equity in access to healthcare, more stable funding of public health costs, and fewer 'free riders', or people who benefit without contributing. Setting up such a national healthcare system involves more than just taxing the people but will require legislation and the creation of responsible bodies.
Two critical issues are ensuring compliance and public accountability. We are also mindful, however, that there are those who have little faith in governments operating such healthcare initiatives due to a propensity for such operations to become instruments of political patronage and the widely shared view that government institutions are relatively poorly managed. In the last analysis, we believe that the scheme would only work efficiently if, and only if, there are proper checks and balances in place especially to ensure that the pool of money goes in to a segregated fund for health and health alone.
oCFAL 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: email@example.com.
The OECD cites two primary authoritative sources for the standards for tax information exchange. They are Article 26 of its Model Tax Convention and its 2002 Model Exchange of Information Agreement on Tax Matters ("Model EOI").
The OECD recently released an update to Article 26 of the Model Tax Convention and its Commentary which includes several noteworthy developments -
o it updates the wording of both the text of Article 26 and its Commentary to reflect country practices and developments in the area of tax information exchange;
o as a new addition to the text of Article 26 it provides that information exchanged for tax purposes may be shared with other judicial and law enforcement authorities for non-tax purposes in the receiving State provided, the information may be used for other purposes under the laws of both States and the competent authority of the supplying State authorizes such use; and
o it clarifies within the Commentary that a request does not need to relate to a specific taxpayer, but may also be in respect of groups of unnamed taxpayers for which the State seeking the information is able to establish a foreseeable relevance link between the group and tax obligations in that State.
One of the examples given to illustrate this clarification in the final bullet point above states:
"h) Financial service provider B is established in State B. The tax authorities of State A have discovered that B is marketing a financial product to State A residents using misleading information suggesting that the product eliminates the State A income tax liability on the income accumulated within the product. The product requires that an account be opened with B through which the investment is made. State A's tax authorities have issued a taxpayer alert, warning all taxpayers about the product and clarifying that it does not achieve the suggested tax effect and that income generated by the product must be reported. Nevertheless, B continues to market the product on its website, and State A has evidence that it also markets the product through a network of advisors. State A has already discovered several resident taxpayers that have invested in the product, all of whom had failed to report the income generated by their investments. State A has exhausted its domestic means of obtaining information on the identity of its residents that have invested in the product. State A requests information from the competent authority of State B on all State A residents that (i) have an account with B and (ii) have invested in the financial product. In the request, State A provides the above information, including details of the financial product and the status of its investigation."
In the last two years three major developments have impacted the evolving parameters for the scope of tax information exchange, respecting its intended application, (i.e. that information exchange should be "to the widest extent possible" and that it should be "effective"). Both notions convey the obligation on States to ensure broad cooperation while curtailing the circumstances in which assistance may be delayed or denied.
The first was the 2010 Amending Protocol to the Joint Council of Europe/OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. This instrument is to date the most comprehensive mechanism for tax cooperation and information exchange. Its total signatory complement is thirty-five, including all G20 members and a number of other Latin American and African countries. The major practical appeal of the instrument is that it reduces the need for multiple negotiations and creates, at once a large pool of partners with which information may be shared and other methods of cooperation facilitated. The possibility of opting out of other forms of information exchange (i.e. automatic and spontaneous) through reservations exists under this Convention.
The second is an initiative taking place within the OECD referred to as a "whole-of-government" approach to fighting financial crimes. It involves collaboration between the OECD and the FATF to enable cooperation between judicial, law enforcement and domestic agencies (including FIUs) for the sharing of tax information for non-tax purposes.
In support of this initiative the OECD's updated Article 26 includes additional text at the end of paragraph 2, which deals with confidentiality of information disclosed, that reads:
"Notwithstanding the foregoing, information received by a Contracting State may be used for other purposes when such information may be used for such other purposes under the laws of both States and the competent authority of the supplying State authorizes such use."
The revised Commentary issued by the OECD clarifies that the additional wording allows the sharing of tax information by the tax authorities of the receiving State with other law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities in that State on certain high priority matters (e.g., to combat money laundering, corruption, terrorism financing). The revised Commentary continues: "When a receiving State desires to use the information for an additional purpose (i.e. non-tax purpose), the receiving State should specify to the supplying State the other purpose for which it wishes to use the information and confirm that the receiving State can use the information for such other purpose under its laws. Where the supplying State is in a position to do so, having regard to, amongst others, international agreements or other arrangements between the Contracting States relating to mutual assistance between other law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities, the competent authority of the supplying State would generally be expected to authorise such use for other purposes if the information can be used for similar purposes in the supplying State. ....."
The third major development was the change in the FATF 40 Recommendations that revised the anti- money laundering standards in February 2012. The revised 40 Recommendations now require jurisdictions to include tax crimes as part of their respective predicate offenses for money laundering purposes. In short this will enable the FIU to require production of tax information, which may, in turn, be shared with peer FIUs abroad.
It should be emphasized that, according to publicly available information, The Bahamas has not signed any instrument that incorporates Article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention. It appears that The Bahamas has to date only signed TIEAs based on the 2002 OECD Model EOI. This includes the Bahamas/US TIEA, which although formatted differently to the more recent slate of TIEAs signed by The Bahamas, nevertheless has been determined to meet the tax transparency standards. Consequently, the contents of its (Bahamas) TIEAs and Commentaries to the Model EOI are what govern their interpretation.
With this in mind and by comparison, Article 8 of the Model EOI, dealing with the issue of confidentiality of information supplied and received under TIEAs, provides in its last sentence:
"The information may not be disclosed to any other person or entity or authority or any other jurisdiction without the express written consent of the competent authority of the requested Party."
As an interpretive guide to Article 8, paragraph 97 of the Commentary to the Model EOI states:
"97. The third sentence precludes disclosure by the applicant Party of the information to a third Party unless express written consent is given by the Contracting Party that supplied the information."
Arguably, the changes to Article 26 and its Commentary on sharing of tax information for non-tax purposes have a degree of consistency with the provisions of Article 8 and its Commentary in the Model EOI. The most obvious difference is the absence of the first conditionality in Article 26, as an expressed requirement in Article 8, which mandates that the disclosure must be permitted under the laws of both States. However, the language of Article 8 accommodates the possibility to include a pre-condition in terms of the first conditionality in the revision to Article 26, as part of the express authorization from the supplying competent authority.
o For further information and details regarding materials referred to in this article please visit the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration website at www.oecd.org.
o Rowena Bethel is a barrister-at-law and former legal advisor to the Ministry of Finance in the areas of international tax cooperation, tax treaty negotiations, financial regulation and the digital agenda. She also served as a member of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters (2005-2009). She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Routes Americas 2012 comes to an end, the Minister of Tourism and Aviation has identified more than a dozen airlines with great potential for The Bahamas.
The major event at Atlantis was the first time the country has played host, and only the second time it has ever been held in the Caribbean.
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace told Guardian Business the hope is to aggressively pursue the hundreds of millions of prospective tourists right in the country's back door - Latin America. While some stakeholders might have daily direct service on their lips from Panama, the minister is thinking bigger.
He believes twice daily service could soon become a reality.
"Panama is a wonderful hub," he said.
"So many countries in South America can connect through there. So I believe we are still only scratching the surface, in terms of cultivating centers such as Brazil or Columbia. We want to see them become non-stop service, or perhaps go through Panama."
Of the 60 airlines in attendance at Routes Americas 2012, TAM Airlines, the national carrier of Brazil, was indeed in attendance.
"There are at least 15 airlines we want to arrange service with to The Bahamas," he added.
"The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation has been putting packages together for these airlines, as we did with Copa Airlines, in an effort to create public/private partnerships. We all go at this together. It's our hallmark."
Vanderpool-Wallace reported strong support from the hundreds of delegates for the redevelopment of Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA). In that sense, he felt Routes Americas couldn't be better timed.
The minister said he was encouraged by the steady presence of U.S. carriers, and new faces such as Allegiant Air and Alaska Airlines. He told Guardian Business the U.S. market seems to be recovering, and in particular, the country needs to consider unconventional routes as well. JetBlue, for example, started flying out of a domestic airport in Westchester late last year.
He envisioned Allegiant and Alaska Airlines could follow a similar pattern.
"Preclearance brings up an incredible competitive advantage. We'll look at those markets that are quite affluent and provide non-stop service," Vanderpool-Wallace said. "So we potentially have more non-stop markets of this nature than anywhere else in the region."
For starters, the minister is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Delta Airlines, which will be restarting its direct flights from New York on March 2.
By DANA SMITH
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 ...
Nassau, Bahamas - Just two months after launching the new
corporate Bahamahost program, the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation began the
course for its own staff members.
For the next seven weeks, 22 employees of the
ministry will receive instruction in best customer service practices, Bahamian
culture and history. It is all
part of ensuring that the Bahamas delivers the kind of visitor experience that
allows the country to put out best performances in the most competitive tourism
environment in history, said Minister of Tourism & Aviation Vincent
The British Colonial Hilton hotel has pumped $1 million into upgrades and refurbishments for its upcoming Beach Club.
LaToya Moxey, the resort's marketing manager, confirmed to Guardian Business a strong demand for more benefits led the hotel to embark upon the initiative.
"We have decided to add the Beach Club to our portfolio and it's a venture that we are very excited to embark upon. We are going to be targeting corporate executives on the island. We are also looking forward to launching and expanding our portfolio," she noted.
"We fall under the Hilton Worldwide brand. Every hotel has its unique features. Other hotels such as the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico has a Beach Club and we decided it would be a great opportunity for us to venture into this."
Moxey noted the preparations for the Beach Club are an extension of the resort's $15 million in upgrades undertaken three years ago.
"We decided to do various upgrades to the property. That includes the patio, pool, beach area and the gym. We estimate around $1 million in upgrades and refurbishments specifically for the club. There was a soft launch for some of our clients. We are looking to open our doors to the corporate world in a few months," she said.
She shared with Guardian Business that the club will be introduced to the corporate market, but will also be extended to interested individuals.
"We were very interested in expanding our portfolio because there is a need and demand from tourists and local guests. We decided it would be a great concept for the hotel to bring to our guests as expanded and extended benefits, making it a timely and perfect move for us," according to Moxey.
The marketing manager also pointed out that a Beach Club manager has been chosen. Thus far, the response has been promising.
"The response has been great so far. We have been getting lots of interested callers. We are expecting approximately 100 members initially for us. It's a comfortable number for us to maintain. We have been getting a lot of interest from businesses and individuals alike," she added.
She described the resort's beach club feature as unique because of its location and offerings.
The benefits of club membership include complimentary facilities and services, a hotel credit account and preferred pricing and discounts.
"Our Beach Club is an unique feature, although there are beach and country clubs throughout The Bahamas in private areas. It's a very unique experience to have the Beach Club here at the Hilton because of its location, and it ties into that corporate feel that the city brings," Moxey noted. "There are a lot of features that are available to you, such as complimentary stays for you throughout the year. And you have the convenience of full concierge service.
"Our beach club is a very unique concept as it gives members exclusive access to the Hilton property and all of its amenities. We have various features such as gym membership, free functions that we put on throughout the year, and vacation planning with other Hilton properties abroad.
"There are so many features and opportunities as it relates to our beach club."
The beach club will be launched in a few months.
Games played through Tuesday, August 17, 2010
PROPER CARE POOL LADY SHARKS 10 2
PINEAPPLE AIR WILDCATS 7 3
BOMMER G. OPERATORS 6 4
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
DORSEY PARK BOYZ
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 ...
Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius. - Fulton J. Sheen.
Irrespective of industry, organization or sector you talk to managers and staff and the cry is the same: Mediocre performers have been allowed to remain in positions year after year, stagnating organizational growth and suffocating genius. Complaints are levied at employees and customers voice their frustration, yet nothing changes. Why? Because no one wants to be the "bad guy" . Nobody wants to pull the trigger. Nobody wants to have the tough conversation, sadly no one has the guts to give the mediocre employee a simple ultimatum - grow or go!
But why not? Why are managers afraid to give the ultimatum? Could it be that they have somehow contributed to this madness? Absolutely! Many managers have become enablers, and if you want your organization to grow these managers need to be arrested.
How do managers contribute to mediocrity in organizations?
1. They hire warm bodies verses the right individual for the job. Sadly this is a dilemma recruitment managers face everyday.
Door number one: Quickly hire someone, anyone, as long as he/she is breathing to fill the position before the board, or senior managers decide to freeze or worst eliminate the position all together. Or door number two: Take the time to search for, train and let's not forget appropriately compensate the right individual to fill the position. Most hiring managers seem to opt for door number one and in their desperation for a quick hire find themselves stuck with one of three types of warm bodies:
The monkey - often referred to as "the ideal person for you" by the manager of the department trying to "pass the monkey". This individual is introduced to the hiring manager as a "gift", with no regard as to whether or not the monkey possesses the right skills and competencies to function in the new role.
The cruiser - this individual possesses the right skills and competencies to fill the position, but has no interest or passion for the role. Their main objective is to "cruise" in an easier role, wait for retirement, escape from his or her current manager/team members or to take advantage of some new freedom/incentive that this position may offer.
The directionless - this individual starts out as the right person for the job. He/she possesses the right skills and competencies, but soon becomes derailed since the organization has no clear infrastructure or strategy to help this individual succeed. The right individual may be on the bus, but after the first thirty days without basic office supplies (a computer, telephone, business cards etc.) do you really expect this individual to succeed?
Wouldn't it be better to opt for door number two and begin the recruitment process with a clearly defined strategy for the position, a strategy that begins with an actionable and accountable job description that allows you to hire for talent and train for skill?
2. Only hiring people they "can manage". Managers claim to want a self-directed, empowered team when what they really want is people who will not rock the boat, people who will not shake the organizational power structure, people who don't know how to think, ultimately people they can control. This is the breeding ground for mediocrity since under these conditions "A level" employees soon jump ship.
3. Lie on employees' performance appraisals - managers who hate confrontation, who want to be everyone's friend, or who may have already blinked out themselves and can't be bothered, grade everyone as fabulous! Four out of four, excellent, excellent. Obviously employees cannot fix a problem that doesn't exist!
4. Failing to set high performance standards in their department - if you've read Jim Collins' book "Good To Great" you know that "good is the enemy of great". If you want your team members to be superstars then you will have to push off the bench! Set high standards of excellence, build in accountability and ensure that every employee knows that there is a consequence for failing to perform at the expected standard. Don't accept excuses for mediocrity. Let's say that a particular job requires an advanced proficiency of Excel, however, the person in the position only has a basic understanding of Excel. They can add columns and texts but cannot create formulas. They promise to enroll in a course but they never do. In the meantime you continuously make excuses for the employee and find ways to work around the deficiency instead of having the "you need to enroll in a course or I will transfer you out of this department" conversation. That employee will always be the weak link and a burden to others in the department, and because there is no consequence for non-performance he/she will never strive to be a continuous learner.
5. When managers themselves do nothing to grow, they "lead" by example - managers lead by example whether good or bad. If you are a manager and you have done absolutely nothing to perfect or enhance your skills within the last 6 months, you're not growing. If you're not growing you have nothing new to bring to the table. Your lack of growth stagnates your team, kills your creativity, and sends a clear message to your staff that mediocrity is acceptable.
A word to the highly skilled, forever operating in excellence, but suffocating in a pool of mediocrity
I saw a quote the other day that read, "In the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous". This is so true! If you're an "A" employee asking "but Stacia, how long will it take for these managers/organizations to realize that when they refuse to give the 'grow or go' ultimatum, they are really doing a disservice to their employees and killing the organization?" I say don't hurt your head for the answer; you'll be long gone by then!
Stacia Williams offers keynotes, workshops and personal coaching on a wide range of: Personal Branding, Image Management, Customer Service, Leadership, Business Etiquette & International Protocol Topics. You can contact Stacia Williams at 325-5992 or email Stacia@totalimagemanagement.com or visit staciawilliamsblog.com.
Saturday 28th April 2012 9:00 AM
Colonial Realty Serenity Expo 2012 Get The Facts On Nassau's Most Affordable Gated Community... Fabulous Amenities Swimming pool. Gym. Library. Club House. Tennis Court. Basketball Court .Royal/Finco On the Spot Pre-Qualification .The Paint Place .Davis & Co. (Attorney At Law) .BahamasLocal.com .Migrafill (Electronic Security) .Purchase Lots at Lowest prices available Lots of Prizes & Giveaways Phil's Food Special Package Giveaway Time: 9:00am to 3:00pm Date: Saturday April 28th, 2012 Place: Phil's Food Services Gladstone Road For More Information Call 225-2119 Click HERE to view Colonial Realty listing page.
By JAMMAL SMITH
Guardian Business Reporter
Another Canadian airline could possibly be landing on Bahamian runways in the future with Guardian Business learning that the country is in negotiations with a flight carrier from Canada.
Air Transat could be the newest airline from Canada offering services to The Bahamas if an agreement is reached between the two countries. Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace told Guardian Business that no final agreement has been reached yet, and several details must be ironed out before the deal is officially done.
"This is really only the opportunity for us to develop a partnership but we haven't finalized as yet,...