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The FNM was defeated on May 7. But it is clearly not in a defeatist mood as evidenced by its special one-day convention held at the Holy Trinity Activities Centre this past Saturday. The theme, "Ignite the Future" was prescient.
Just three weeks after its defeat, the FNM has done something often rare in Bahamian party politics. It has placed a new generation of leaders in the three top posts of the party, namely Dr. Hubert Minnis as leader, Loretta Butler-Turner as deputy leader and Charles Maynard as chairman. The FNM's Senate team is led by Senator Desmond Bannister.
After the FNM's convention, the political landscape resembles an Anancy-like tale charged with irony. The PLP's counterparts of the four opposition leaders mentioned are all of a certain age or have been in frontline politics for quite some time.
Curiously, the new government seems dated in some ways while the party that was defeated is already putting forward a fresh image and new faces of leadership. Both victory and defeat contain rewards as well as complexities and challenges.
Ironies abound. The offspring of two prominent PLP families, the Butlers (Loretta Butler-Turner) and the Maynards (Charles Maynard) are today a part of the core leadership of the FNM.
Why did these offspring of prominent PLP families leave the party of their parents and/or grandparents? Part of the answer may speak to a long-term challenge for the PLP and a long-term opportunity for the FNM.
Sir Milo Butler could not have envisioned a grandchild of his, a granddaughter no less, in the number two spot of the FNM. And the legendary former chairman of the PLP, Andrew "Dud" Maynard, lived to see his boy become chairman of that other party.
Another convert to the FNM, outgoing Party Leader Hubert Ingraham, addressed the convention in a morning session. In a moving address the former prime minister recounted his record, and that of the FNM. It is an extraordinary record that will be difficult to match including accomplishments that have transformed our democracy.
Today, Bahamians take for granted that the broadcast media is free of state control. The freeing of the airwaves by Hubert Ingraham and the FNM was a singular moment in the deepening of democracy.
Not only were the airwaves freed, so too the voice of a new generation of Bahamians and other voices liberated after decades of fear of criticizing Sir Lynden Pindling and his party. Gone was the fear of intimidation and victimization.
And yet, the man who liberated a medium that may have played a role in his defeat is demonized as a dictator by some who happily tolerated government monopoly of the broadcast media, a typical feature of dictatorial politics.
That some of these have used a freed broadcast media to lob their charges is more than irony. It is the kind of hypocrisy which suggests the motivations of those who rendered unto their Caesar autocratic and absolutist control of the broadcast media.
For his freeing of the airwaves alone, history will record Hubert Ingraham as a committed democrat.
While the former head of government may be unpopular in various quarters at the moment, he will have something more lasting - an extraordinary legacy.
Though still recovering from its defeat, it is perhaps its overall legacy in government and that of the past five years that has the FNM in a fighting spirit. And, though having lost an election, the party faithful appear confident about their record and chances for electoral recovery.
Moreover, they realize that while they have considerable work to do, that the PLP did not gain a majority of the votes, and that governments tend to lose support over time.
Both party Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner gave upbeat speeches outlining some of the key areas on which the FNM in opposition will fight. The party seems ready to move forward guided by three Rs: renewal, rebuilding and resolve.
That resolve and confidence about its future were showcased by Sosa Man in his "Dreaming in Colour" and in remarks by recent COB graduate Anwar Lewis. Less than a month after its loss, the FNM has begun the process of rebuilding by choosing new leadership.
It will now need to mount an effective opposition not only by holding the government accountable. More broadly the FNM will need to fine-tune its message.
It must propose also a vision for the country that resonates with younger voters and captures the hearts and imaginations of those critical voters it failed to attract on May 7.
Killarney MP Dr. Hubert Minnis and Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner have emerged leader and deputy leader, respectively, of the Free National Movement, as the party struggles to find its feet in the post-Ingraham era.
Minnis, a former Health Minister in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, was elected leader unopposed during a special one-day convention the party held at Holy Trinity Activities Centre in Stapledon Gardens on Saturday.
Butler-Turner, former minister of social services, emerged the first female deputy leader of the FNM.
Charles Maynard, a former sports and culture minister, was elected chairman after defeating Carl Bethel, the incumbent, in a hotly contested race.
Dr. Duane Sands and Darron Cash were both elected deputy chairman. Both are relatively new to front-line politics.
Butler-Turner thanked those
who supported her and those who challenged her and lost. She held off challenges by Senator Desmond Bannister, Rev. Dr. Frederick McAlpine and Gladys Sands.
She pledged to support Minnis as they begin the work of renewing the FNM.
"Lift up your heads FNMs," a jubilant Butler-Turner said. "Wipe away any remaining tears. Stand up tall and proud. Let your voices be heard. Refresh your spirits [because] we have work to do.
"Our task is bigger than holding the government accountable. We have to rebuild and expand our support in the country."
In his maiden address on Saturday night, Minnis said: "I have a privilege afforded to few -- the privilege of accepting the leadership of our great Free National Movement. I accept this honor with gratitude and great confidence. I am especially confident that we will demonstrate to the Bahamian people that we are the party of the future."
But Minnis said the Opposition would not oppose the government just for the sake of opposing.
However, he pointed out that already there are claims of victimization by the PLP and said that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is retreating from promises it made on the campaign trail.
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts congratulated Minnis on his win. But he said Minnis has already broken his promise not to oppose for the sake of it.
"Dr. Minnis... spent a large part of his speech [demonstrating] that he plans to do no such thing, even when it means distorting the record of the PLP government as he did with his ongoing denial about how the FNM dismantled Urban Renewal, his unfounded talk about victimization and his repeating the foolish talk of his predecessor about corruption..."
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Members of the National Culinary Team have been selected and practicing for several weeks for the Taste of the Caribbean regional competition later in June in Miami. Meanwhile, the team will display their culinary skills at two upcoming public events starting with 'Sunset Tapas on the Bay' set for Tuesday, May 29 at Blu Restaurant and Lounge on Elizabeth and Bay.
According to team manager Executive Chef Devin Johnson, the team will showcase an assortment of tapas menu items at the reception which will be a blend of locally infused international works of culinary art.
"I believe the public will delight in both the creativity and taste of what the team is putting together," states Chef Johnson. "Mixing indigenous foods with traditional appetizers helps to hone our chef's skills. At the Taste of the Caribbean competition the judges will look for an infusion of international and local flair."
Tuesday's event will run from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. "With the backdrop of cruise ships berthed in Nassau Harbour, against the sounds of live Bahamian music, and the team's unique tapas selection and beverage offerings, this is a great opportunity for people to unwind from a busy day while showing their support for our up-and-coming young chefs," according to Bahamas Hotel Association President Stuart Bowe.
The tapas selection will include: cracked conch sushi; jerk chicken tartlets with guava BBQ sauce; Bahamian crawfish spring rolls with Asian dipping sauce; vegetable spring rolls; homemade combined veal, pork and beef meatballs with fresh sage and a tomato basil fondue; an asparagus, wild mushroom and roasted pepper pinwheel; and watermelon, papaya, cucumber and goat pepper gelee.
"The team has been practicing for six weeks and every week we see improvement," states Chef Johnson. "They've been working on techniques, beginning to gel more, and everyone knows their role. In the coming weeks it will come down to execution. That's why the tapas event at Blu and an upcoming team dinner at Atlantis on June 12 are so important."
The competition is sponsored by the Bahamas Hotel Association, the Ministry of Tourism and the Bahamas Culinary Association with support from team member hotels and restaurants and corporate sponsors Bahamas Food Services and Bristol Wines and Spirits. Blu and Atlantis are also assisting with hosting the team's two showcase events.
This year's team is comprised of: Team Manager Chef Devin Johnson from the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort; Team Captain Chef Jamal Small from Blu Restaurant; Chef Mychal Harris from Atlantis; Junior Chef Kevyn Pratt from One&Only Ocean Club; Chef Charron McKenzie and Pastry Chef Wenzil Rolle from the Lyford Cay Club; Chef Shanique Bodie from the Old Fort Bay Club; Bartender Gerard Knowles from the British Colonial Hilton; and Dwayne Sinclair, the National Young Chef from Temple Christian High School.
Over 14 Caribbean culinary teams will be vying for the culinary honors next month.
For additional information or tickets contact the BHA at 322-8381 or the Ministry of Tourism at 328-7810. Tickets will be available that evening at the door.
Prime Minister Perry G. Christie and his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government have a mammoth task ahead of them -- rescuing a dying economy.
I was alarmed after reading about the massive financial deficit the country finds itself in for the 2012/2013 fiscal period.
According to the prime minister and the Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis, the budget deficit is projected to be a staggering $500 million. That's over half a billion dollars. The Bahamian government collects approximately $1.5 billion in revenues per annum.
However, that is not enough to meet the financial obligations of an ever-expanding government.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, the PLP, while the official opposition, thought that this year's budget deficit was in the neighborhood of $300 million. But they had grossly underestimated the deficit by some $250 million.
The $500 million deficit is a clear indication that the former Free National Movement (FNM) government had overspent by the hundreds of millions in its effort to stimulate the sagging economy. According to one of the national dailies, the national debt will reach the $5 billion mark before the end of the upcoming 2012/2013 fiscal year. With a population of about 350,000, this means that each citizen is saddled with a debt of $14,285.
The Ingraham administration was emulating U.S. President Barack H. Obama's economic policy of pumping government money back into the economy in order to stimulate economic growth. Clearly, the financial advisors in the Obama administration are following the theory of the late British economist John Maynard Keynes.
After nearly three-and-half years in the Oval Office, it is now evident to all and sundry that Obama's fiscal policies have failed to get the U.S. out of the prolonged Great Recession.
Now there are fresh reports that the U.S. economy is slowing down again. This bad news couldn't have come at a more inopportune time for Obama, who will be seeking reelection in November against his GOP rival Mitt Romney. The Great Recession has already caused several incumbent governments around the world to fall over the past several years. The FNM government was no exception. It looks like the same fate awaits Obama. Even Red China, Brazil, India and many of the nations in Europe are now struggling financially.
According to a U.S. Internet daily, the jobless rate in that country has climbed to 8.2 percent. And this is not counting the millions of discouraged workers who have simply given up on looking for a job.
Even more alarming is a recent report stating that about half of American households are now receiving some form of government handout in other to make ends meet. The U.S. national debt is fast approaching $16.3 trillion.
It is projected to reach $17.5 trillion next year. Obama has added $5 trillion to the national debt since early 2009.
When the U.S. suffers, we suffer. Our economic health hinges on the state of the U.S. economy. Many American families have simply cut back on their spending.
Of course, this means that more and more Americans are not taking vacations the way they used to when the economy was buoyant.
With over 85 percent of our visitors coming from the U.S., it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the tourism sector has floundered in recent years. Many of the hotels in Grand Bahama are either closed or have scaled down.
One example is the Grand Lucayan Resort. This resort has three hotel properties, but only one is open for business, Breaker's Cay.
Even our financial services sector is a mere shadow of its past. The two main economic engines of our economy have struggled. Tourism and banking have carried this country for over 50 years. In fact, these two important industries, in their present forms, were created by the legendary Stafford Sands, The Bahamas' first tourism and finance minister in the United Bahamian Party government. He was the architect of the modern banking system and the year-round tourism industry. Since majority rule, no government has introduced any industry that has been able to have the kind of impact that tourism and banking have had on our economy. Not one. Our overdependence on tourism and banking has finally caught up with us. We have failed to diversify the economy. Now the chickens have come home to roost. Before majority rule, ours was mainly an agrarian society. But after 1968, many Bahamians began to view farming and weeding as Haitian work. We don't produce anything. Over 98 percent of our food products are imported from abroad.
I think that we have entered a new era. I believe that our way of life in this country will experience a radical change in the next decade or so. I also believe that our dollar will eventually be devalued, as was the case with Jamaica under the socialist Manley regime during the turbulent 1970s.
I think that the level of poverty in this country will continue to increase, despite the valiant efforts of the prime minister. Sooner or later, Prime Minister Christie will have to start entertaining thoughts of reducing the over bloated civil service.
With a population of 350,000, we have a staggering 25,000-odd persons on the government's payroll. What's more, we have government corporations like the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, Bahamasair and the Bahamas Water and Sewerage Corporation that are bleeding the Treasury dry. Obviously, with the nation in a financial mess, the government just cannot continue to allow these unprofitable entities to bankrupt this country. Tough measures will have to be taken by the prime minister.
In the last analysis, successive Bahamian administrations have been guilty of running deficits.
With tens of thousands of Bahamians in the civil service, successive governments had no other choice but to overspend.
The recent revelation by the prime minister concerning the financial state of the Treasury should cause every Bahamian to be concerned about the future state of our economy.
No matter what policies the Christie administration implements, the stubborn facts remain that ours is a service based economy that is overly dependent on the U.S. economy.
Outside factors have brought our economy to its knees. While it was politically expedient for the PLP during the past several years to downplay the gravity of the global financial meltdown and its negative impact on our economy, sooner or later the prime minister will have to admit to the nation that our economy has been negatively impacted by outside forces.
Between 2002 and 2007, the first Christie government created some 22,000 jobs, but Christie's first tenure as prime minister had coincided with the presidency of George W. Bush. The period between 2002 and 2007 saw great economic growth in the U.S., especially in the housing sector.
The first Christie regime was simply a beneficiary of the tremendous prosperity in the U.S. Now, however, the prime minister will have to contend with a recession which has baffled even the keenest financial minds on Wall Street, and he will have to deal with a president who believes in the Marxist theory of wealth redistribution.
Christie will soon discover that it is lonely at the top as the leader of this country, despite having a massive cabinet.
The eyes of the nation are on him now, not on any of his 20-plus cabinet ministers. They will be expecting him to do what he had promised on the campaign trail - fix the economy and create thousands of jobs. Frankly, I don't think that he will be able to avoid the coming economic armageddon. In fact, not even the mighty United States of America, China, Brazil, Japan, Europe and the former Ingraham administration have been able to do so.
- Kevin Evans
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - Sawyer's Labour Day Weekend Super Hoilday Sale is going on NOW until Monday June 4th. Get low prices on everything Fresh at Sawyer's Save-A-Lot. We carry the most sought after produce when it's in-season and bring you the best prices and the best quality.
Shop at Sawyer's Fresh Market on Oak Street and watch your grocery bill get lower! Locally Owned - Locally Operated - Earth Friendly - Always Fresh - Smart Choice - Best Quality - Fabulous Selection.
The hotly anticipated Solomon's Fresh Market in the Harbour Bay Shopping Centre has the potential to become one of the parent company's biggest producing outlets in short order, according to a top executive.
Gavin Watchorn, the CEO of AML Foods, said the new supermarket is starting to get "quite a bit of attention" of late. The hype out east, he added, has easily grown beyond the attention generated by the first Solomon's Fresh Market prior to its opening in the Old Fort Bay Town Centre.
What it adds up to, AML hopes, is a considerable jolt to the bottom line once the second supermarket opens before Christmas.
"Right now, the Solomon's SuperCenter in Nassau is our flagship store and merits the greatest volume. I think Harbour Bay could come a close second," Watchorn told Guardian Business.
The CEO reported that construction work has begun at the old City Market site. Approximately 40 Bahamans are now employed through the contractor, he noted, and once the floor and ceiling are complete, the supermarket can begin "rolling in" the equipment.
This second Solomon's Fresh Market is designed to be identical to the location out west. The new brand has proven to be a hit among Bahamians, offering considerable quality and diversity of products.
Although AML Foods knows it has stumbled upon a winning formula, Watchorn said the company plans to slow down somewhat after the Christmas opening. The BISX-listed firm recently opened a new Solomon's in Grand Bahama back in June, and it is now gearing up for the release of its first Carl's Jr. franchise.
"We would consider another Solomon's Fresh Market later on, but I think once we are successful with Harbour Bay, we really have a spread between east and west. We don't want to over-extend ourselves," he told Guardian Business.
Executives at AML are braced for a significant spike in sales following these openings. At the recent annual general meeting, the company projected $160 million in sales within the next five years.
Launching the second Solomon's Fresh Market out east just before Christmas might be a coincidence, according to Watchorn, although it should also kick off the company's drive to reach $160 million in sales.
"It's a great time of year to open. We'll work pretty hard to make sure it happens before Christmas," he said.
The company plans to invest up to $5.5 million into the Harbour Bay Centre outlet. AML will hire 85 Bahamians, putting a dent in the legions of workers let go after the demise of City Market locations.
Alert #30 on Tropical Storm Isaac issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology at 3pm, Sunday 26th, August 2012.
Isaac has not strengthened.
Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for the Northwest Bahamas, namely Bimini, Grand Bahama, Andros, New Providence, Berry Islands, Abaco and Eleuthera but have been discontinued for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Central and Southeast Bahamas.
At 2pm, the center of Tropical Storm Isaac was located near latitude 23.9 degrees north and longitude 81.5 degrees west or about 232 miles west-southwest of Fresh Creek, Andros, 277 miles west-southwest of Nassau, and 180 miles south of South Bimini.
Isaac is moving toward the west-northwest near 18 miles per hour. A west-northwest to northwest motion is expected during the next 48 hours with a gradual decrease in forward speed. On the forecast track, the center of Isaac is expected to move near or over the lower Florida Keys later today and tonight and move into the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Monday.
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island -
Flying Fish Modern Seafood is pleased to announce their
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Progressive Liberal Party Leader (PLP) Perry Christie confirmed yesterday that he is a legal consultant for Davis & Co., the law firm which represents Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC).
Christie confirmed that the company benefits from the advice he provides to BPC's legal team.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham suggested on Wednesday that Christie is a consultant for the company that wants to drill for oil in The Bahamas.
Ingraham said that this drilling would not take place if his administration is reelected to office.
BPC wants government approval to drill an oil well in Bahamian waters by April 2013.
Christie said the working relationship with Davis & Co., the law firm owned by PLP Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis, began after his party lost the 2007 general election. Davis & Co. is one of two Bahamian firms listed as legal representatives for BPC on its website.
Christie said the current relationship he and Davis have with the oil company would not be a conflict of interest if his party wins the May 7 election.
"It's not a conflict because the advice I'm giving now has nothing to do with any decisions I [will] make as prime minister," he said.
"What a Cabinet minister must do is declare their interests and ensure that it is clearly understood that in the past or present he's had a relationship [with a company]."
When asked by The Nassau Guardian if BPC has funded the PLP's election campaign, Christie stressed that the company had not made any contributions to the party. He added that he is paid by Davis & Co. for any work he does relating to BPC.
"BPC has not made a donation to the PLP nor has the PLP requested a donation from BPC," Christie said. "That is to the best of my information, that not one single dollar has come from BPC. In fact, I'm waiting for the first donation from major private sector agencies in The Bahamas. Traditionally they make them but they are slow in doing that now."
A press release posted on BPC's website, and published in Offshore magazine earlier this month, said the company looks forward to the May 7 election.
"Whatever the result, it (BPC) anticipates a refreshed mandate to support exploration," the press release said.
Yesterday, Christie explained his role with Davis & Co and by extension BPC.
"I consult on work the firm deems I am qualified by the office I've had, with the knowledge that I have in terms of government," he said.
"If there is an issue they need advice on, whether or not they need someone to speak to the issue of environmental impact [studies], the issue of whether or not in my judgment a matter is worthy for the government to approve, whether or not an application is ready, whether or not they should employ and who should go on the board of directors, whatever views they ask of the firm, in the event that firm regards it as necessary, they would consult me on it. Those are the services I provide.
"I don't have a working relationship with the company; I have a working relationship with Davis & Co."
Ingraham told The Nassau Guardian about the association between BPC and several senior PLPs. BPC's website also lists PLP candidate for Killarney Jerome Gomez as its resident manager.
Yesterday, Christie would not say definitively if his party would allow any company to drill for oil if it wins the next election. He said that decision would depend on environmental studies presented to government on the issue.
Cuba has started drilling for oil in waters bordering Bahamian territory. According to the Orlando Sentinel, U.S. officials are bracing for a possible spill from Cuba's drilling.
In 2005, BPC began its negotiations with the Christie administration for its various permits and licenses to look for oil in the country's territorial waters. In 2010, the FNM placed a moratorium on new licenses for oil exploration and drilling after the Deep Water Horizon oil spill which devastated the Gulf of Mexico.