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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.
Twenty proud security personnel representing 17 airports in 13 Family Islands received Train the Trainer certification at the closing ceremony of the five-day “Excellence in Screening Techniques Course,” held January 21-25 at the SuperClubs Breezes Resort.
I've just returned from a blissful, exciting, invigorating, refreshing and totally awesome seven-day trip to a place that, after three days, felt so comfortable that I wanted more. The definition of ambassador was exemplified by the locals in that country in a way I've never seen and/or experienced before. As a military brat, I have traveled and lived all over the world. But until October 24, I had never traveled to the Caribbean - in particular, Nassau, Bahamas.
The definition of ambassador is: 1. An authorized representative or messenger; b) an unofficial representative traveling abroad as ambassadors of goodwill.
From the time I stepped off the plane in Nassau, as I walked through the long corridor leading up to baggage claim eyeing the Wall of Fame of beautiful female and male athletes; to the airline attendant who immediately knew my name when I asked about my lost luggage (I thought it was lost, but it wasn't); to the wonderful host, Dr. Ebbie Jackson, who sponsored a Women's Retreat at the beautiful, newly renovated SuperClubs Breezes Resort, I felt the spirit of ambassadorship everywhere I went.
Of course I realize Nassau, Bahamas is a tourism 'hot spot.' Tourism is an emerging economic driver and one would expect its people to be kind to tourists. As someone who's worked in community, small business and economic development in Georgia for many years, I get it. I also recognize that there are bad elements and crime in every city. But it's not necessary to totally focus on the negative.
But as each day passed, my mind kept visualizing how my hometown would look, feel, be seen as, or be known as if everyone became an ambassador. It's so easy to focus on the negative, dwell on, complain and do absolutely nothing about it. The rants that appear in our daily newspaper and one of the local weekly newspapers are sprinkled with negative comments, attitudes and opinions every day.
There have been many conversations about CEOs who wish to locate to Augusta and how their decisions are made based on what they perceive the culture and fabric of the city to be by things they read written by locals.
I rode the bus about five times during my stay. For $1.25, wonderful bus riders greet everyone with a "hello" or "good morning/afternoon" when they get on; and I remember the bus driver who loves to talk about the tourist sites, night spots and their beautiful beaches - it was money well spent.
Everywhere you go, the locals love to ask, "Is this your first visit to Nassau?" I sense that they really love to hear when someone says they've been to their country before. I have to admit, I grew weary of saying it was "my first time" because the looks on their faces were a little shocked. So, naturally I must hurry back so that I can respond to that question and say, "No, this is my second time in your beautiful country."
Being greeted with a smile or a hello from construction workers, waiters, bus drivers, domestic workers and everyone else you can think of was the norm. I thought everyone is an ambassador for their country here in The Bahamas. Why can't we do that in Augusta or wherever your hometown is? Someone may say, "Well Helen, since The Bahamas is a tourism country, the locals have a reason or vested interest in benefitting from being nice, kind, accommodating, thoughtful, happy, and genuinely interested in you being in their country because it's stimulating the economy and businesses, thus creating jobs."
And I would say yes, that is true. But think about it. Your hometown may not be a tourist destination. Your economic driver may be nuclear energy, alternative energy, medical, technology, call centers, military installations or many others. But consider this? Who are tourists? They are simply people, CEOs, or families who represent these industries who come to visit and/or live in your hometown. These individuals attend your schools, churches, restaurants, cultural centers, museums, performing arts theaters and so much more. They spend money in your hometown.
So if they're coming to your hometown, you, as a local, have a vested interest - an increased tax base, new small business development, and a stronger economy, which benefits the entire community. I thought about this concept every day I spent in Nassau. It resonated so much that I had to write this blog to share with you.
It's all about the people. It's people who run and manage businesses. It's people who work for these businesses. It seems to me that everyone who plays a role in being an ambassador for their hometown creates a win-win situation. Yes, I know someone reading this is saying, "Helen this is too idealistic." I beg to differ.
I witnessed this concept in action for seven days. My experience was beautiful beaches, great weather. Even with the rain a couple of days it was amazing watching the work ethic of the working people; unbelievable hospitality everywhere I went - a hello and a smile; luxurious resorts and condos; live music; a beautiful woman who served me, my two girlfriends and several other women a four-course Bahamian meal on her best china like the way you see in the movies; gospel music playing on every bus I rode on; and knowledgeable people who knew what was going on in their city with all the growth and development taking place.
I certainly can't leave out the gorgeous Bahamian men and women and the dedicated police officers.
I'd like to challenge you to become an ambassador of your hometown for 30 days and watch what can happen. All you have to do is simply say hello to everyone you greet, smile more, say something positive about your hometown, no matter what it is, and then watch for a transformation that could make an impact on you, your family and your hometown's economic stability for many years to come.
I absolutely fell in love with Nassau, Bahamas and have every intention of visiting again soon. I have no doubt that when I return, someone is going to tell me, "Welcome home Helen." I look forward to that too.
By SPORTS WRITER
For The Guardian
The Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) will be conducting an international coaches clinic, for all coaches in The Bahamas on Friday, August 6, from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Saturday, August 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Breezes SuperClubs Hotel. The clinic will feature top college coaches from the United States and will be for local coaches from The Bahamas. The cost of the clinic is $70, which includes clinic materials. Coaches who would like to stay at the hotel, a discount rate of $85 per night will be given.
The objective of clinic is to increase the pool of qualified coaches in The Bahamas with a view to improve the quality of coaching in the ...
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...
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.
Responding to claims that he will run in the next general election, Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday suggested the decision will be made by himself, the people and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
"That's not important to me now, [the fact that] people keep on talking about whether I'm running again," he said in response to a reporter's question on the matter.
"You know who decides whether I'm running again? Firstly, me and my family. Secondly, the people, the members of Parliament and the political organization throughout the country.
"So I'm not going to be distracted by that now. I see people saying I am running again. That's fine. They are able to say that. I am now running to get results from the Progressive Liberal Party government. That's what I'm running for. I am running full speed all the time. I have not taken a day off since the election.
"I am driving the government in this regard. There are going to be people who will make mistakes with this. We will have to correct those mistakes but we are moving forward resolutely to deliver what we promised the people."
Christie spoke to reporters following the opening ceremony for a UNESCO meeting at SuperClubs Breezes.
Christie, 70, said previously that he was grooming the next generation of leaders in the PLP.
In February, PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts and senior party member George Smith said there is widespread support for Christie to stay on as leader and take the PLP into the next general election.
Roberts said while the PLP has "cadre of new generation leaders" many in the party love and are committed to Christie.
"Everybody's got the right to change their mind," he said.
Smith said unless a viable contender for the PLP's leadership emerges before the election, it is likely that many in the party will try to convince Christie not to step down.
He said Christie is likely to garner huge support from the party for re-election.
"I believe that Mr. Christie enjoys tremendous support of the party and unless someone is obviously in a position to demonstrate that individual could command that support, there are bound to be individuals in the party who would push for Mr. Christie to continue."
In January, Christie suggested that if former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham returns to public life there is no guarantee and he, Christie, would exit.
Tourism officials believe that expanding its Canadian market will only have a positive impact on The Bahamas' bottom line.The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation is teaming up with Canadian tour operator Sunquest, as it announced direct flights to Nassau from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Tourism's National Manager for the Canadian office Janet Cuffie said the venture is part of the ministry's expansion strategy.
She believes the key to ensuring that The Bahamas is seen as a strong destination by vacationers is through successfully convincing travel partners to offer more destinations in more markets.
"There will be two weekly departures on Thursdays and Sundays aboard Thomas Cook Airlines' 217-seater Boeing 757 aircraft," she said.
Cuffie told Guardian Business the launch of this newest service is in addition to the year-round flight from Toronto to Nassau that Sunquest currently operates.
Cuffie revealed that in addition to the flights, Sunquest will offer Nova Scotia residents the opportunity to book three, four and seven night stays at any of eight Nassau or Paradise Island area resorts.
These resorts include Atlantis Paradise Island, Comfort Suites Paradise Island, Paradise Island Harbour Resort, Best Western Bayview Suites, Superclubs Breezes Nassau, Wyndham Nassau Resort&Crystal Palace Casino, Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort.
Sunquest's Vice President Steve Buchart toldGuardian Business the company is delighted to offer direct flights between Halifax and Nassau as part of its winter 2012 program.
He called this move a win-win situation for all involved.
"This new route not only allows our customers in Halifax to experience, first-hand, our Thomas Cook Canada flights and the best-in-class service that goes with that, but it also provides us with the opportunity to further promote Nassau as a fantastic vacation destination.
"Not only does Nassau offer great resorts, beautiful beaches and ample opportunities for fun, it is now easier than ever to visit with this new direct service."
The Halifax program to Nassau with Sunquest is showing strong sales for the month of February.
In fact, last night's inaugural flight was sold out.
Sunquest has been offering Canadians vacation packaged holidays for over 40 years, specializing in the Caribbean, The Bahamas, Central America, southern Europe and Mediterranean cruises.
Halifax is the largest city in Canada's Atlantic region.
The nonstop seasonal service from Halifax to Nassau commenced yesterday and will end on April 8, 2012.
By PAUL G TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOUNDER and chairman of SuperClubs Breezes John Issa said that he is pleased that the government of the Bahamas has agreed to go ahead with the $2.6 billion Baha Mar project on Cable Beach.
Saying that such a development is not only good for the hotel industry, but for the Bahamas as a whole, Mr Issa said that this new influx of construction and activity will be a welcome change.
"This is a good thing that something is happening, because, like the Prime Minister said in his press conference, there are hotel rooms on Cable Beach unused - for two years in a row now the casino has been closed in the slow periods, so somethi ...
The chairman of the largest Bahamian bank delivered a power-packed report to shareholders yesterday, mixing positive news of an upbeat start to this fiscal year with a serious message: 2013 will not be about growth, but about stability and strength.
"We will forego growth in favor of prudence and that will keep Commonwealth Bank strong, stable and profitable, the number one Bahamian bank in the nation," declared William B. Sands Jr., addressing hundreds who filled the large conference room at SuperClubs Breezes for the all-Bahamian-owned and operated bank's annual general meeting (AGM). With net income of $36 million in fiscal 2012 despite loan write-offs of $44 million, and little hope for major economic recovery until Baha Mar opens in late 2014, Sands said the bank would continue on its conservative path.
"In 2013, the bank will maintain its focus on the consumer market which has served us well," the bank's CFO Patrick McFall said. "Recognizing the challenges of the day, we also intend to be led by quality over quantity. This means we will forego growth over prudence believing that this will benefit the bank and consequently benefit you our shareholders in the long term."
President Ian Jennings echoed and reinforced the conservative path, outlining areas including online banking where the bank with branches in Nassau, Grand Bahama and Abaco would look for modest growth. It also plans to introduce mobile banking. The single physical expansion, Jennings said, would be the Oakes Field branch which, he noted, had outgrown the capacity needed to serve the public. That branch is temporarily closed, the victim of fire less than one week later during the height of a major electrical and rainstorm May 21. Work on the branch, initially scheduled for the fourth quarter, is now expected to be advanced to an earlier date. Meantime, the bank has relocated its Oakes Field branch operations to the Burns House building on John F. Kennedy Drive and Bethel Avenue, a move it made in record time, some eight days after fire forced the closure of the Oakes Field branch.
Despite references to the five-year-long recession, the bank paid $28.5 million in shareholder dividends in 2012, maintaining its policy of sharing 65 percent of income with the more than 4,000 shareholders from every walk of life. And on the day of the AGM, Commonwealth Bank's share price hit the highest price traded this year - $6.79.
"The highest traded shares of BISX reflects the desirability of the shares even in uncertain times," said Jennings, crediting effective management and "absolute dedication to excellence in service by all the management and staff of Commonwealth Bank."
Along with additional scrutiny that goes into every lending transaction now, Jennings and McFall said tighter controls had netted higher efficiency ratios. Those recession-bred refinements, however, will not alter the formula for success identified by Commonwealth Bank, the widespread, broad-based consumer loan with the average loan in the $16,000 range to avoid catastrophic loss in a single default.
The bank also took preemptive action, passing a resolution to amend the rights of $50 million of authorized by unissued preference share capital so they would be well-positioned to comply with the international capital accord known as Basel III. The president said the bank wanted to address the issue in the next two to three years rather than wait until 2023 when the accord would be fully implemented.
For an annual general meeting in a challenging economy, it could go on record as one of the liveliest and most enthusiastic.
After reporting the full extent of mixed news culminating in a better than expected first quarter with more than $12 million in profit, the president took a question from a member of the audience that stunned everyone.
"You all did such a great job I think you should give yourselves more money and then we can all get more dividends, too," she said.