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News Article

July 16, 2014
Govt seeking to rehabilitate mortgage relief program

The government is seeking to "rehabilitate" its failed mortgage relief plan, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday.
Christie said the government held a meeting on the matter yesterday.
However, he did not provide details as he said the process has just started.
Christie spoke to reporters following the opening ceremony for a UNESCO meeting at SuperClubs Breezes.
The mortgage relief plan, which was touted by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) ahead of the 2012 election, was projected to assist 1,100 homeowners when a watered down version was presented to Parliament.
But it helped fewer than 10, officials admitted.
The government allocated $10 million for that plan in September 2012.
According to the government, there were around 4,000 homeowners in arrears.
In January, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said the government was examining an alternative proposal to the plan, which he said fell far below expectations.
He said at the time that until an alternative plan comes into effect, the government hoped to provide homeowners with other forms of protection.
Christie said yesterday the government is still committed to the pledge to bring relief to delinquent homeowners.
"Clearly, from my point of view, our commitment to govern has been mandated by the people of this country," he said.
In its original plan, the PLP pledged to get local banks to agree to a 120-day moratorium on foreclosures and to write off 100 percent of unpaid interest and fees for those facing foreclosure.
The PLP also said that it would encourage banks to reduce the interest rate on the mortgages in question to prime plus one percent.
However, these details were not included in the modified mortgage plan, which was later presented to Parliament.

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News Article
Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony tonight
July 01, 2011
Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony tonight

Tonight at SuperClubs Breezes, the Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC) will induct its Hall of Fame Class for 2011.

Beginning at 7:00 p.m., BBC Chairman Pat Strachan will lead the reception that will honor Open Inductee Bertram 'Bert Perry' Perigord and Veterans Inductee Wilfred 'Battling' Douglas.

Tonight's event is the second of the present commission's initiative to pay tribute to the icons of Bahamian boxing. In early 2009, the commission made a decision to begin the Hall of Fame program and in November of that year, with the full endorsement of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the first ceremony was held during the Caribbean Awards Sports Icons (CASI) week.

The first inductees were William 'Yama Bahama' Butler, Gomeo Brennan and Everette 'Elisha Obed' Ferguson. Yama Bahama and Brennen were the original international pioneers of Bahamian boxing and Obed was the first (and still only) fully recognized world champion. He won the World Boxing Council's (WBC) Junior Middleweight crown in 1975.

Brennan twice held the Commonwealth (British Empire) middleweight title, winning it the first time in 1963. Yama Bahama was the original Bahamian prime time sports star of television and radio. Tonight, officially their company will be expanded by two more.

Perigord is a former two-time heavyweight champion of The Bahamas and a New York State Golden Gloves silver medalist from 1968. Douglas is one of the more exciting Bahamian boxers who ever put on a pair of gloves.

For the 2011 Hall of Fame Induction, the commission decided to include a Veterans category. The decision was grounded in the need to acknowledge all of the high-level contributors and pacesetters of the sport from its beginning in the country. The political powers in the land enacted legislation during the decade of the 1990s to control professional boxing.

The present commission is going a bit outside of the box and expanding its functions with the Hall of Fame ceremonies. Commissioner Paul Moxey has been appointed Chief Statistician and has the mandate of the organization to work with a committee on a research effort it is hoped will eventually result in the listing of all of the champions of the past and present. The boxers from different eras will also be compiled. It's a tough task because no records were kept prior to the establishment of the Bahamas Boxing Commission Act.

However, this commission has undertaken the responsibility. It will take a quality job by the research committee to sustain the Hall of Fame program.

Tonight, the Boxing Hall of Fame spotlight will be on Bertram 'Bert Perry' Perigord and Wilfred 'Battling' Douglas. They will be the center of attraction one more time.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at

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News Article

June 19, 2013
Women of worth encouraged to take their positions

Life will never be the same for participants in the recent Woman of Worth (WOW) Ministries International conference because after two days of interceding prayer, they left the conference knowing they would be held accountable for their actions, and that their lives would never be the same.
Under the theme "Positioned for Such a Time as This" intercessors saturated the atmosphere in the Ocean View Suite at SuperClubs Breezes. It was transformed into a tabernacle of worship, with prayer and praise.
Minister Lavette McFall spoke to the women about what God has in store for them, while Reverend Eileen Johnson told them that they had been handpicked, processed and positioned and that God was getting ready to promote them.
Pastor Patricia Womack, out of Atlanta, Georgia, spoke to the women about being "light" in accordance with the conference's theme.
"When we are called out by God, we cannot be threatened by other people's gifts or talents because there is no competition in God," said Womack.
She told them that everyone has been gifted for the role they are to play in the kingdom. And that God wants to reveal his plan and purpose for their life to each person individually. The pastor told the women that they all have their own unique flavor so there was not a need to compete because competition is counterproductive. And that weakness of attitude will lead to weakness of character and God wants women to be exceptional, established, extraordinary, excellent and endowed with power from on high.
Co-pastor Cleopatra Williams warned the women that they can be in position to receive their gifts, but out of place. And she encouraged the women to be vocal on issues. She told them to speak out on issues because they know the truth and if they don't they would be out of place.

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News Article

July 01, 2011
Police liaison officers for public schools

Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade announced yesterday that a police liaison officer will be assigned to each government school when schools re-open in September.

Greenslade and other government officials, including the Director of the Immigration Department Jack Thompson, met with public school principals during a forum at SuperClubs Breezes Resort yesterday morning to discuss crime and immigration related issues affecting the public school system.

School violence has been a major concern in public schools, especially in New Providence, over the last few years. The Department of Education and police have had to respond to fights, stabbings and at least one homicide on or near New Providence public schools.

"I've assured principals that they are fully in control of their schools and we stand in full support of them," Greenslade said.

"But we will be more than happy to ensure that there's a school liaison officer assigned to every school in The Bahamas. We have sufficient officers to deal with that and they should be available at all times to the schools and any issues that needs to be pushed further up will be handled by our officers."

Greenslade's announcement came fours years after the Free National Movement (FNM) administration dismantled the school policing program left in place by the last Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration.
This program involved stationing police at public schools.

That initiative was replaced with a community policing approach through which officers are stationed outside schools during peak hours (7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and his government have held to the position that police officers do not belong in schools.

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News Article

July 01, 2011
Immigration crackdown

Director of Immigration Jack Thompson yesterday called on school principals to report unregularized students who register at their institutions, saying the Department of Immigration intends to "flush out" undocumented foreign nationals enrolled in the public school system.

Thompson, who was speaking at a forum for public school principals yesterday morning at SuperClubs Breezes, said The Bahamas can not afford to have illegal immigrants in the public school system "absorbing our resources."

"You should call me and tell me where they are living because I have to deal with them," Thompson told the principals.

"We have to hit at the root. The root is the parent. I am not in the business of sending the children home and not the parents or sending the parents and not sending the children.  We have to send them together.

"All of them must go and they must go as soon as possible because we can't have people illegally residing and going to school and absorbing our resources. You know how the community feels about this. The communities are outraged."

He pointed out that the children who are not Bahamians should be in receipt of a permit to reside.

Thompson noted that the permit to reside card is similar to a Bahamian driver's license.

He said his department has to begin a dialogue with the Department of Education "so we can flush out and unclog the system because there is a lot of concern."

Thompson stressed that immigration officials will not target the undocumented children but will go after their parents and deal with both simultaneously.
Public school officials cannot refuse to register illegal immigrants, as according to Bahamian law, all children residing in The Bahamas have the right to an education.
"This is a balancing act, because while on one hand you can not deny education, by the same token we have a responsibility to crack down and to deal with this issue," Thompson said.
Children who are born to Bahamian women, whether married or single, have the automatic right to citizenship. Only in cases where a non-Bahamian woman is married to a Bahamian man is the child automatically granted citizenship.
Children born in The Bahamas to single women who are not residents of The Bahamas have a right to apply for citizenship when they turn 18.
Thompson said immigration officers never round up illegal immigrants at schools, hospitals or clinics and churches.
"That is a no, no," he said. "While we have a job to do, we have to do things the right way."
He said apprehension exercises will take place in the communities where they live.
While he had no official count, Thompson said there are "a number" of children attending school without proper documentation.
He said it is the department's policy to ask undocumented migrants to leave the country and apply to be regularized through the proper means.
"What we are challenged with now is, should we regularize someone while they are here in the country? Should we regularize someone after they have been here for five years?
"So we're often criticized when we send people back but if we start regularizing persons who are here to start with, then I'm not sure what message we are sending."
Director of Education Lionel Sands, who also attended the forum, told principals that they should work along with the Department of Immigration in its efforts.

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News Article

July 02, 2011
Thompson: Undocumented children not targeted

Immigration Department Director Jack Thompson yesterday revised remarks he made Thursday on the issue of undocumented migrant children in the school system, emphasizing that his department does not intend to enter schools and remove children who do not have legal status to be in the country.

Thompson, who was speaking at a forum for public school principals Thursday morning at SuperClubs Breezes, said The Bahamas cannot afford to have illegal immigrants in the public school system.
"You should call me and tell me where they are living because I have to deal with them," Thompson told the principals on that occasion.

"We have to hit at the root. The root is the parent.  I am not in the business of sending the children home and not the parents, or sending the parents and not sending the children.  We have to send them together. "All of them must go and they must go as soon as possible because we can't have people illegally residing and going to school and absorbing our resources. You know how the community feels about this. The communities are outraged."

Yesterday, in a statement, Thompson emphasized a point he made at the event Thursday while backing away from some of his more aggressive remarks made at the education forum.  He said his department will be humane as it carries out its duties.

"The director emphasized that as a matter of policy the church, schools and clinics were off limits for apprehension exercises," said Thompson's statement.
Thompson also stressed Thursday, while calling on educators to inform his department of undocumented students, that immigration officials would not target these children.  Instead, he added, they would goafter their parents and deal with families simultaneously.
"Administrators were told that students of foreign nationals attending schools should apply to the Department of Immigration for a residency permit or permit to reside.  It was emphasized that while students should not be denied the right of a basic education, records by the Department to Immigration are critical for future applications - i.e., permanent residence (and) citizenship," said Thompson yesterday.
The public school system in The Bahamas does not bar children from receiving an education if they have no legal status in the country.

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News Article

June 23, 2013
Bahamas Education Ministry and IDB hold 5-Day Seminar

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in conjunction with the International Development Bank sponsored a five-day seminar under the theme, "Strategies and Best Practices for Improving the Educational Support Services for Inclusive Education". The seminar was held from Monday, 17th June to Friday, 21st June, 2013 at SuperClubs Breezes, Cable Beach...

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News Article

July 04, 2011
Government immigration statements must be clear

The Director of the Department of Immigration, Jack Thompson, on Thursday made hawkish statements on the illegal immigration problem in The Bahamas while addressing principals at an event at SuperClubs Breezes Resort.
Thompson, said The Bahamas cannot afford to have illegal immigrants in the public school system "absorbing our resources."
"You should call me and tell me where they are living because I have to deal with them," Thompson told the principals.
"We have to hit at the root.  The root is the parent.  I am not in the business of sending the children home and not the parents or sending the parents and not sending the children.  We have to send them together.
"All of them must go and they must go as soon as possible because we can't have people illegally residing and going to school and absorbing our resources.  You know how the community feels about this.  The communities are outraged."
Thompson also emphasized at that event that his department does not, as a matter of policy, apprehend undocumented children at schools.
Thompson's bold remarks reflect the frustration many Bahamians feel with the failed immigration policy in The Bahamas regarding Haitians. Successive governments have been unable to slow the flow of people from Haiti to this country. Therefore, there are thousands of people here who were not invited.
All right-thinking people would accept that it is impossible to stop unauthorized Haitian migration to this country.  Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and it has a population of nearly 10 million.  Many Haitians want a fresh start away from the struggling republic.
Many Bahamians, however, think that successive more can be done by our leaders to reduce the flow of Haitians to The Bahamas. This segment of society is frustrated and angry. Those Bahamians want illegal shantytowns demolished and those who are here illegally to be sent home.
By echoing this frustration, however, Thompson went in tone beyond the policy position of the executive branch of government.  The Free National Movement (FNM) administration has been moderate in its approach. The FNM has held to the traditional apprehension and repatriation policy, but it has also extended an olive branch, inviting Haitians who have been in the country for long periods of time to come in and be regularized.
The Nassau Guardian published Thompson's remarks last Friday.  It appears as if Thompson's superiors in the Cabinet were not impressed. On Friday he issued a more conciliatory statement, emphasizing that Immigration will not be targeting undocumented children in schools.
If the Cabinet wants to clarify the position of the government, that's fine.  Policy and tone are dictated by Cabinet.  We take issue, however, with the insinuation that this newspaper misconstrued what Thompson said Thursday.
"The Thursday's article gives the impression that children are to be targeted by the department's officials. The Department of Immigration regrets this insinuation and strongly condemns any such suggestion or attributions," said Thompson's Friday statement.
This newspaper reported what the immigration director said at a public forum. The comments the Cabinet has a problem with were uttered by its head of department.  The dispute it has is not with this newspaper and it should not have statements sent out suggesting improper reporting when the issue is one between the executive branch of government and one of its senior officials.
The Friday statement should have simply said that the immigration director was excessive in tone and that the policy of the Cabinet is more moderate.
The Nassau Guardian needs not be involved with the varied policy positions held between senior civil servants and the executive branch of government.

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News Article

April 15, 2014
PM, minister, financial secretary agree: Payroll tax not a viable option

Bahamian workers would face grave reductions in take-home pay if a payroll tax were implemented instead of a value-added tax (VAT), said three of the leading voices in financial affairs, including that of the prime minister.
"You would need a payroll tax of 20-25 percent to equal what a VAT of 15 percent would generate," said Prime Minister Perry Christie.
The prime minister was addressing a gathering of more than 100 people, ranging from those with farm interests in Abaco to consultants from some of the nation's largest businesses and the financial services industry at a national conclave for Chambers of Commerce at SuperClubs Breezes resort on April 2.
Most of his address dealt with the way forward for The Bahamas, and touched on subjects including the advancement of an international arbitration center and international aircraft registry, and the untapped potential of seabed products. He then turned to the ever-present topic of national conversation - the broad-based tax system the government proposes to implement to raise annual revenue by $200 million, in hopes of avoiding the devaluation of the Bahamian dollar.
Asked if the government had considered alternatives to VAT, the prime minister said absolutely, adding that he was still listening to and talking with persons from a wide range of perspectives. But a payroll tax would penalize the working individual, he said, a conclusion echoed by Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis and independently at a later presentation by Financial Secretary John Rolle.
Both men said government had plugged payroll tax into a model, and the results showed that the impact on the economy, including smaller take-home paychecks, would be far greater than the anticipated 5-6 percent increase on the cost of living, which is expected to accompany the first year of VAT.
According to the government's figures, it would take a 16 percent salary deduction to equal what a 10 percent VAT rate across the board would generate. The deduction would have to be between 20 percent and 25 percent to generate as much as a 15 percent VAT rate would net.
"The net positive impacts (of implementing VAT) outweigh the net negative impacts," said Halkitis, noting that The Bahamas still does not have capital gains tax, estate taxes, corporate or individual income tax.
And, according to Minister for Financial Services Ryan Pinder, The Bahamas remains one of the lowest percentage tax regimes in the region and in the world.
The Bahamas rate of taxation to GDP is 16 percent, he said, while other countries collect far greater percentages of their total product, including the U.S., where taxpayers cough up 32 percent of the gross domestic product in taxes every year.
"The real question," said Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle, "is can we afford not to do it?"
Warning of the increased scrutiny of credit rating agencies, he said, "It only takes one person, one suggestion that The Bahamas is not a good place to invest, not a safe place to put your money, and guess what happens - it not only impacts the government, it impacts everyone. We have only one chance to get it right."

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News Article

May 16, 2013
Woman of Worth conference seeks to empower and assist with building self-worth

In these challenging times, a conference that seeks to empower women to face life's challenges, change their circumstances and assist with building their self-worth while helping them to discover who they really are is just what is needed.
With that in mind, the Woman of Worth Ministries International will host this year's worship summit under the theme "Positioned For Such A Time As This."
The conference takes place May 24-25 at the SuperClubs Breezes. The conference starts at 7 p.m. on Friday and at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.
"Things are changing around us daily and you need to be equipped with the correct tools to be effective in this season," said conference host Minister Lorna Jay Simmons. "We feel that it is important to take time out to be renewed, refreshed and refueled to have an encounter that will help prepare us for our promise," she said.
Reverend Eileen Johnson from the Church of God; Patricia Womack from the Libert Worship Center Church of God of Prophecy, Atlanta, Georgia; Pastor Cleopatra Williams from Life Changers Ministries International; Minister Nadene Moss and Minister Necole Watson are also scheduled to speak at the conference.
The conference's focus will be on awakening the awareness that women have been strategically placed to complete an assignment given to them by God for the body of Christ, family and society.
The conference, for which there is a $50 per person fee (a group rate for five or more is available) targets single, married, mature, young, professional, hurting, broken and strong women who are thirsty for refreshment.
Minister Simmons said whatever women are going through -- whether they're downtrodden or flying high, they can find their place and purpose through God.

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