Nassau Guardian Stories

High Flyers win NPBA Division II title

April 12, 2017

In a nail-biting affair, the Breezes High Flyers took the New Providence Basketball Association's (NPBA) Division II Championship, winning the best-of-five series three games to two.
The High Flyers turned back the Johnson's Truckers, 75-74, in the fifth and deciding game at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium on Monday night.
In the clincher, Jeremy Neely paced the High Flyers with a game-high 26 points on 7-for-17 shooting from the floor. He added 11 rebounds and three assists, and was 3-for-8 from distance. Shanton Pratt had 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals for the High Flyers. Devontee Gibson added a dozen points and nine rebounds, and Enrico Bethel and Travis Stuart dropped in six apiece.
Christorr Stuart had a huge double-double for the Truckers. He scored 25 points and added 12 rebounds. He also had five
assists and four steals. Horris McKenzie scored 19 points and had eight rebounds for the Truckers. Franz Smith Jr. had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Tyrrell Griffin contributed nine points.
The game was close throughout. The High Flyers led 11-9 after the first quarter, but fell behind 31-29 at the break. They surged back in front in the third quarter, and led 54-50 at the end of three. The game went back and forth in the fourth before the High Flyers prevailed by one at the end.
In division one, the Mr. Ship It Regulators turned back the MailBoat Cybots, 101-88, to take a three games to two lead in that best-of-seven series. Game six is set for Wednesday night.
Brian Bain and Gamaliel Rose led the Regulators with 22 points apiece. Rose had an all-around game as he added 10 rebounds and five assists, and was efficient from the floor as well, shooting 6-for-10 for 60 percent. Miguel Mackey had 19 points, two rebounds, seven assists and five steals for the Regulators. Eugene Bain was their only other player in double figures with 13 points. He added a game-high 16 boards, and contributed three assists and three steals. Dion McPhee came off the bench to score nine points and add six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Ernest Saunders led the Cybots with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Lerecus Armbrister had 18 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and two steals. Livingston Munnings had 14 points, 12 rebounds and six steals. Delvonne Duncombe scored a dozen points, and Dominique Beadle came off the bench to score 10 points and pull down seven rebounds.
The floating trophy in division two is named in honor of legendary Bahamian basketball player Reggie Forbes.

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Approximately 200,000 persons attended the Sun n Fun Fly In and Expo

April 12, 2017

LAKELAND, Florida -- The Bahamas' Ministry of Tourism along with its hotel industry partners who attended the 43rd Annual Sun n Fun International Fly In and Expo in Lakeland, Florida, from April 4-9, are happy with the group leads and new business opportunities they obtained during the six-day aviation expo.
"Based on the high level of exposure the Islands of The Bahamas received through its prominent brand displays and strong partnership with Sun n Fun, along with numerous live radio and television broadcasts, seminars, one on one meetings with pilots and other contracted business opportunities our hoteliers procured, we could not have been more pleased," said Omar Isaacs, General Manager of Vertical Markets at the Ministry of Tourism. "The fact that our hoteliers, new and old, are already planning to attend this expo in 2018, speaks volume of their excitement, confidence and knowledge of the importance of this expo to their business development."
Jeff Todd, Director of Communications for GIV Bahamas, the largest owner of villas at Grand Isle Resort in Exuma, said he has "seen a tremendous growth in fly-ins to Exuma as a result of our first participation at Sun n Fun in 2016. We have some 64 COPA pilots flying into Grand Isle later this year and we have established some new partnerships (with Heaven's Landing) and exploring the possibilities of conducting our own air show in Exuma."
First-time participant at Sun n Fun Richard Keyworth, Director of Sales at Ocean Heights, a new hotel now under construction in Long Island, said the "caliber of clientele at the expo is exactly what our upscale property is targeting. This show has exceeded our expectations in every way and we are so very pleased with the turnout and level of interest shown in Long Island and our property."
Some of The Bahamas' other leading hoteliers that participated in the week-long event included Small Hope Bay Lodge (Andros), Valentine's Inn (Eleuthera), Fernandez Bay Village (Cat Island), Resorts World Bimini (Bimini), and Old Bahama Bay, Whyndham Viva Fortuna and Flamingo Bay Hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Representatives from the Grand Bahama Island Promotion Board as well as three of The Bahamas' preferred fixed base operators, Banyan, Marathon General and Atlantic Aviation, also attended the event.
Now in its 43rd year, according to Sun n Fun's Chairman Bob Knight, "this year's event shattered all of our previous records."
The largest convention in Florida and the second largest aviation show in the world, it is estimated that more than 200,000 persons, from over 60 nations, inclusive of 500 manufacturers and exhibitors, pilots, campers and aviation enthusiasts, attended the six-day event, which showcased daily aerobatic air shows. More than 10,000 aircraft movements were recorded, during the event, which featured aircrafts ranging from Warbirds and vintage bomber jets to light sport home built experimental aircrafts.
About 225 private pilots interested in flying into The Bahamas participated in special seminars on the policies, procedures and ease of flying into The Bahamas, which were conducted by the Bahamas Flying Ambassadors; seasoned pilots with extensive experience in flying to and around the islands of The Bahamas.
The Ministry of Tourism also hosted members of the international press, aviation performers, industry partners and executives of Sun n Fun to a dinner reception.
"Our relationship with the Ministry of Tourism continues to be strengthened year after year and we are excited about our projects with The Bahamas and to preserving the aviation industry" said Knight.
Through its partnership with Sun n Fun, pilots attending the Sun n Fun show, conduct fly outs to various islands in The Bahamas following the Lakeland Expo. In addition, in April of 2016, the Ministry of Tourism along with Sun n Fun launched the first Grand Bahama Air Show. This year's aerobatic air show is scheduled to take place May 19-20, over the pristine waters at Taino Beach in Grand Bahama.

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The grim the grave

April 12, 2017

The stage has been set for what promises to be an interesting showdown between Perry Gladstone Christie, a weary political titan with an insatiable lust for power, and Dr. Hubert Alexander Minnis, a far from inspirational opponent, who managed to overcome a years-long threat to his feeble leadership to patch together the wounded elements of the troubled Free National Movement (FNM) and mount a challenge against the formidable force that is the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
Branville McCartney's Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is also lined up at the starting line, hoping to benefit from the apathy many voters have toward both major parties. The grim reality of our current political scenario is this: No one option stands out as an obvious pick to provide the kind of focused, visionary and dynamic leadership needed at this juncture in our national development.
Given the pitiful performance of the Christie administration, the FNM ought to be set for a dramatic victory at the polls.
But the PLP should not be counted out. It has a serious election machinery and ground game, and the FNM's strength is diminished because its leadership is neither inspirational nor attractive.
While many PLPs -- including some of his own ministers -- quietly whisper about Christie being long past his shelf life, his refusal to bow out gracefully after a decades-long career in politics, and their refusal to make him leave, have emboldened him for another run, even if it is torturous bid.
Watching Christie these last few weeks has been like watching a fighter long past his prime, who just believes there is one great fight left.
It is painful to see.
There is nothing left that Christie is able to offer of any real value to national development.
He has no real message. He has no real plan. His party has not released a manifesto and we are on the eve of an election.
Much of what it outlined the last time around has gone unfulfilled. There is not much to boast about; Christie is asking voters to give him more time to complete his agenda.
But he should really be asking for forgiveness, not votes -- as his deputy, Philip Brave Davis, said of Hubert Ingraham in 2012.
Under the Christie administration, the economy has limped along, failing to bounce back.
The GDP growth rate averaged 0.2 percent over the past four years. The growth rate stood at 1.7 percent at the end of 2015. The projected growth rate for 2016 is said to be an estimated 0.3 to 0.5 percent.
In December, Standard & Poor's, the international credit ratings agency, downgraded our credit rating to junk status. There have been four downgrades this term.
The unemployment rate -- last recorded in October 2016 -- was 11.6 percent. It dropped due to temporary jobs as a result of Hurricane Matthew.
On the ground, things remain tough for many Bahamians. They are burdened by value-added tax, but very many feel the government has been wasteful in its spending.
Many feel a sense of hopelessness with Christie at the helm.
There is an urgent need for a recovery of optimism in The Bahamas.
While campaigning heavily on the crime issue last time around, the PLP's pie-in-the-sky promises have not translated into safer communities.
More murders were recorded this term than during any other term in recorded Bahamian history -- reaching more than 600. The PLP is not talking about that for obvious reasons.
The promised mortgage relief plan failed to have any real impact on saving homes from foreclosures. When it came to office in 2012, one of the first acts of this administration was to abandon the unrealistic proposal it introduced on the campaign trail. But the watered down plan was no better.
As the election approaches, the government still claims it will put in place a National Health Insurance (NHI) plan this month. In 2012, before it was elected, it promised that NHI would be in place within the first year of a PLP government.
This was among the more outlandish pledges made

by a party desperate to get power.
Christie marks among his achievements this term getting the troubled Baha Mar project back on course.
It is scheduled to start its phased opening on April 21. We do not believe that timing is coincidental.
It is not taking bookings yet. At last reports, it had hired around 1,000 Bahamians.
It is for sure a positive sign that the project is progressing and that people have been hired.
God knows we need jobs.
Bahamian creditors have been paid, an important development.
Many Bahamians, however, continue to demand that the government move to have the court unseal the deal sealed with the Chinese to complete the project.
It took a leak for the public to find out that what was initially presented to the Bahamian people as a "gift" and an "ex gratia" payment to the thousands of former Baha Mar employees and unsecured creditors was a $100 million trade-off for VAT concessions for the developer's general contractor, China Construction America.
This is the kind of information Christie and the PLP did not want the Bahamian people to know.
They have in fact spent most of this term eroding the trust the Bahamian people placed in them in 2012.
Christie may have under-estimated the impact of his decision to ignore the results of the 2013 gambling referendum and go against the will of the people in a democratic process.
His explanation for doing so -- his claim that the Central Bank governor was worried that unregulated gambling houses may be fuelling money laundering -- had no weight, given that Christie had clearly known of this threat prior to that referendum.
With such a dismal record, and a trail of broken promises, Christie instead is choosing to focus on the shortcomings of the FNM leader, Minnis.
He says Minnis would be an embarrassment to The Bahamas on the international stage, and that the quality of FNM candidates is inferior to the candidates the PLP is offering.
This points to Christie's and the PLP's irrepressible sense of entitlement, as if they alone are qualified to govern The Bahamas.
It is true that there are some quality, well-meaning and talented candidates in the PLP, even if the leadership is worn out and lackluster.
The thing is, the same can be said about the FNM. There are some quality candidates there too, but there is challenged leadership. And leadership matters at the end of the day.
In the last five years, the PLP has done a lousy job at administering the affairs of The Bahamas.
Many Bahamians are anxious to see Christie go.
He is the greatest drag on the PLP and on the nation's prospects right now.
Some PLP candidates are hearing on the ground, "I like you. I would love to vote for you, but I cannot vote for you because that is a vote for Christie and I will not vote for Christie."
Just ask Leslie Miller in Tall Pines, Khaalis Rolle in Pinewood, Alfred Sears in Fort Charlotte or Dr. Kendal Major in Garden Hills.

Anything but Christie?
The problem so many voters face is that Minnis is also a dismal option.
No matter how the FNM slices it, Minnis simply is not leadership material -- not when we are talking about leading a nation that is today on the fiscal cliff, with a burgeoning debt (exceeding $7 billion), high unemployment, high crime, a broken education system and so many other critical issues that will take vision, focus and competence to address.
Some FNMs fool themselves into thinking that Minnis' main challenge is his inability to articulate.
If that were his main problem, he would be a much more palatable choice.
But Minnis does not demonstrate that he is a deep thinker. He does not show that he has the capacity to bail us out of the economic doldrums and chart a course for a more prosperous Bahamas.
He is so insecure and so obviously challenged to explain and defend his own proposed policies that he is staying scripted.
He is staying away from speaking extemporaneously for fear that he would end any chance he has at leading the FNM to victory.
It is not enough to say Minnis would have a strong team around him, leading from behind.
A prime minister has to lead.
He must be able to provide direction, to show strength, mental agility and focus.
In Parliament this term, Minnis has been a weak debater, he has fumbled and bumbled and struggled to respond to the government on all manner of issues in a cogent and effective manner.
He has come across as ill-prepared at times.
He has proven an embarrassment on occasion.
He has failed to provide strong leadership to his party's parliamentary team. This has led to an unprecedented vote of no confidence in him.
Anyone who believes that, that vote of no confidence was fueled by selfish motives of seven FNM MPs should take off their blinders.
Those MPs had very legitimate concerns about Minnis' weak leadership.
His challenges notwithstanding, many people are leaning toward the FNM because the thought of another five-years of Christie and the underperforming, arrogant PLP is terrifying to many voters.
The primary choice many voters have in their minds is whether they can live with another term of Perry Christie.
Many are saying "anything but Christie".
That chorus seems to be resonating. There is a widespread anti-Christie sentiment that will likely cause many voters to hold their noses and vote for Hubert Minnis.
We believe this election will largely be determined by the ability of the PLP to bring out its base.
If Christie can get PLPs to come out as they have traditionally done, and if enough voters turn to the DNA in protest, or for some hope, Minnis and the FNM could be in trouble.
We are not prepared to call this election.
We believe it will go down to the wire. Many decisions will be made in those ballot boxes.
We admit, there is no outcome on election night that would provide us with a sense that our nation's future is in good hands.
If the PLP loses on May 10, there would be little to celebrate, because Minnis has failed to demonstrate that he grasps our challenges, and has the prescription or the ability to address them.
If the PLP wins, there would be nothing to celebrate. We would be in for more of the same, and who really wants more of that?
We are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place -- a very big rock and a very hard place.
The best that we can hope for right now is a strong opposition no matter who wins government.
We have suffered this term because of a weak opposition that has failed to hold the government to account and has failed to play any meaningful role in ensuring good governance.
Minnis was opposition leader for most of these five years.
With the way the political landscape is set up, the FNM appears to have a good chance at winning the election.
But when the music stops, when the celebration ends and it is time to govern, the real test would emerge for Minnis and the FNM.
If his performance as leader of the opposition is any indication of the kind of prime minister he would be -- and we believe it is -- then we would likely face a difficult road in the years to come.

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Black hole

April 12, 2017

With the symbolic ringing of the bell yesterday, we are fully into election season, but voters should be mindful that there are a number of critical matters the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government has refused to fully report on -- if they have reported at all -- and crucial information that continues to be kept away from the electorate, information that we have a legitimate right to.
One thing the PLP has proven this term, and that is it is masterful at obfuscation, suppression and deflection.Toward the end of the term, it brought a Freedom of Information Bill, finally.
The bill has been debated in both houses of Parliament and passed.
It has not yet been brought into force and we could get no confirmation from any government official on when that will happen.
The list of the Christie administration's secret dealings or unanswered questions is long.
From the Baha Mar deal, to the report into the delayed Rubis report, the suppressed restructured BTC agreement and the waste of $650,000 of taxpayers' money on the Caribbean Muzik Festival, this government has a lot to answer for.
Voters ought not be fooled by Prime Minister Perry Christie's efforts to demonize Free National Movement(FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and cast the FNM's team of candidates as unworthy or incompetent.
Yes. We all know Minnis is challenged. Many close to him know he is challenged. Members of his team still quietly talk about the fact that he is not inspirational.
What Christie is not talking about, is that which many Bahamians have been demanding throughout this term: Answers on matters in the national interest.

Baha Mar documents

Voters have every right to be suspicious of their government given that eight months after Christie announced that an agreement was reached with the Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM) to complete Baha Mar, the deal has still not been made public.
The prime minister reported that the Chinese requested that the Supreme Court seal the deal.
In January, Christie told reporters that Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson has been directed to have the deal made public "at the earliest opportunity".
"We have negotiated at length on Baha Mar and notwithstanding what has been said we did not (and) we were not the principal persons to ask the court to keep the information hidden away from the Bahamian public," he said.
"That was a commercial decision made by the lawyers of the bank and our attorney general is under direction from this Cabinet that at the earliest opportunity the government of The Bahamas should move to have the documentation before the court be made public.
"We have no difficulty whatsoever of being able to account for what we have negotiated and I can tell you this, in the history of this country, that will go down as one of the most brilliant set of negotiations ever done in advancing the cause of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas."
Maynard-Gibson subsequently reported that the documents will be released before the start of the phased opening of Baha Mar on April 21.
Asked on Monday when the documents will be released, she repeated it will happen this month, although she declined to say whether they will be made public before the opening.
Many people are anxious to know what the government agreed to, to get Baha Mar back on course.
We previously revealed that the government has waived value-added tax payments in connection with completing the project.
That came about as a result of leaked information.
What else it agreed to is anybody's guess.
We will wait with interest to find out.
If the government goes into election with the Baha Mar documents still hidden from the public, voters should take this as a sign that there really is something to hide, and send a strong message to the PLP.

BTC deal

One of the key promises Christie and the PLP made ahead of the 2012 general election was to get back majority control for Bahamians in the Bahamas Telecommunications (BTC) company, as well as majority ownership from Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC).
Bahamians do not have majority control of BTC, but nearly three years ago, the government inked a deal with CWC to get back two percent of the shares in the company, we were told.
The announcement was made with great fanfare on August 29, 2014, but Christie never made the agreement public, despite promising several times to do so.
Quite frankly, it is insulting that he has kept this secret from the Bahamian people.
Christie finally reported last month that the BTC Foundation, created under that deal, has accrued almost $1.3 million since it was established in 2014.
Christie's recent reporting on the foundation was the first update to be given by the government since the deal was signed.
The time has long passed for the government to make the full agreement public, but we doubt it will do so in the remaining days of this term, with Parliament dissolved.
The CWC deal puts a lie to the government's claim that it is transparent.
While promising to get back a majority interest in BTC for the Bahamian people, the PLP on the campaign trail also pledged to launch a probe into the Ingraham administration's sale of 51 percent of the shares to CWC in 2011.
In fact, PLP Deputy Philip Brave Davis pledged that there would be a commission of inquiry to look into this sale and other matters, including the development of the shipping port at Arawak Cay, and the controversial New Providence Road Improvement Project.
As we suspected at the time, that was more hot air from a party that was prepared to do and say just about anything to win the election.
Last November, Labour Minister Shane Gibson moved for the appointment of a parliamentary select committee to probe the BTC sale.
The parliamentary session ended without any report from the late-term committee.

The BPL business plan

We've pressed government officials on this a thousand times, but we still have not been able to get our hands on a copy of the $900,000 Bahamas Power and Light business plan.
The Christie administration signed a transition services agreement with PowerSecure on July 22, 2015.
At the core of that agreement was a new business plan based on evaluations of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's finances, power generation and power reliability issues.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis promised numerous times to make the business plan public. But it remains secret.
It is unclear whether we will ever get to see this plan our tax dollars funded.
It would be interesting to see what becomes of BEC under a Minnis administration if the FNM wins the election.
FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis charged at a political event on Christie Park last week that "The PLP made the problems at BEC worse by bringing in a company that made a mess of things."

$650K for Caribbean Muzik Festival

We chuckled the other day when the prime minister talked about how easy it is to "piss away money". There are clear examples this term of his administration doing just that.
We might run out of newsprint if we attempt list them all.
In 2015, the Ministry of Tourism pumped $650,000 into the Caribbean Muzik Festival.
The main events of the festival never happened.
As we previously reported, the Bahamian taxpayers did not get value for money.
The sponsorship was a waste, and there has been no reporting on what the ministry is doing to recoup the funds, although Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe suggested some time back that there would be legal action.
He even pointed a finger at his colleague, Alfred Sears, the PLP's Fort Charlotte candidate, who was a festival director prior to getting the nomination.
It is unsettling that, that money has seemingly been wasted.
We imagine this is one of those matters the government would rather see left alone, especially during this period of heightened demands and scrutiny over the administration of public affairs and public money.
It seems this $650,000 has been flushed down the drain.
This is just unacceptable, and should also be foremost in people's minds as they assess the actions of the Christie administration this lap, its level of accountability and its management of the public purse.

The report into the delayed Rubis report

There is perhaps no other matter this term that displayed the Christie administration's callous disregard for the Bahamian people than the matter involving a fuel spill at Rubis gas station on Robinson Road.
In May 2015, amid public uproar over the government's suppression of a damning report into the spill, Maynard-Gibson announced that the government appointed retired Justice Joseph Strachan to conduct an independent review into the cause of the delayed release of a report by Black and Veatch into the leak.
The report warned of possible health risks to people who live and work in the area, but the government sat on the report for more than a year, releasing it only after angry residents expressed outrage at a town meeting.
It has been nearly two years since Maynard-Gibson announced the independent review was being conducted.
Incredibly, the government has also refused to make public the report into the reasons for the delay.
This is insulting.
Last July, Strachan told us he expects that in "due course, persons who are in a better position than I will speak to the release of the report".
At the time, the attorney general said the matter was not before her and she was not prepared to discuss it.
Nine months later, no one has addressed the matter.
On Monday, we asked the attorney general the status of the report. She promised to check and let us know.
We are still waiting.
We suspect we will be waiting a while if the PLP gets back in office.

LOI

The controversy that surrounded Renward Wells' signing of a letter of intent (LOI) with Stellar Waste To Energy for a reported $600 million waste to energy plant at the New Providence Landfill in 2014 is a matter that we never got any real answers to.
Wells was a PLP at the time and parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works.
He reportedly signed that controversial document without authorization, leading to the prime minister asking for his resignation.
He refused to resign, and Christie fired him three months into the controversy.
Wells nor the prime minister provided a full report on the LOI signing.
Dr. Hubert Minnis, who at the time was leader of the Official Opposition, also demanded answers.
Wells fell out with the prime minister and the PLP, and in 2015, he joined the FNM.
With Wells on his team, Minnis could not risk anything embarrassing coming to light.
He no longer had a political interest in continuing to demand answers.
When Wells was still an FNM, Minnis asked a number of questions about the LOI in the House of Assembly. Those questions were still on the House's agenda when Parliament was dissolved.
As such, the LOI issue remains one of the big mysteries this term.
In a related matter, the Christie administration also failed to make public the contract Renew Bahamas had to develop a recycling facility at the landfill.
Renew has since pulled out of the project.
Constant fires at the landfill remain a key issue as the election approaches.

'Toggie' and 'Bobo' contract claims

During the mid-year budget debate a year ago, Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn said he had information that the men at the center of a murder for hire plot that allegedly targeted members of Save The Bays have or had government contracts.
The names Livingston "Toggie" Bullard and Wisler "Bobo" Davilma became household names after Louis Bacon, the wealthy Lyford Cay neighbor of fashion mogul Peter Nygard, and several other members of Save The Bays alleged Nygard paid Bullard and Davilma to carry out the murder plot.
Lightbourn said sources in the Ministry of Works told him that the men had monthly cleaning contracts of $10,000 with the ministry.
He also said he had information that at least one of the men also has Crown land.
At the time, the prime minister, who has responsibility for Crown land, said one of the parents of Bullard or Davilma was granted Crown land or a lease, but he could not say if either man had been granted land.
Christie said if either of the men had been granted Crown land it would have been before his time.
The prime minister said he would get the information and report to the House of Assembly.
He never made any such report.

A right to know

Christie and his Cabinet have proven to be an indisciplined bunch who disregard the public's right to know and who often insult our intelligence with promises they seemingly have no intention of fulfilling.
Many times when we ask questions, we know we are wasting our time.
Their failure to demonstrate a commitment to transparency has turned many people against them.
It is shameful that heading into the election, the public is in the dark on many matters it should know about.
It's as if much of the public information has gone down a black hole.
They are not accountable enough. They are not transparent enough. They are far from progressive in their administration of public affairs. Many are concerned about what would transpire with another five years of the PLP.
They have every right to be concerned.

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Bahamasair's storm-damaged plane a write-off

April 12, 2017

The Bahamasair ATR plane wrecked in a freak storm that spawned a tornado has been declared a write-off by ATR engineers, the chairman of the airline told Guardian Business yesterday. The company expects receipt of a new ATR by the end of June.
Valentine Grimes said the $20 million aircraft will be replaced through the company's insurance, and ensured that the aircraft was fully covered for the type of incident that caused irreparable damage.
He added that Bahamasair would not require any funds from the government. The old aircraft will belong to the insurance company when the damaged airplane is replaced.
"The conclusion was that we will replace the plane with a completely new plane, which we are in the process of doing and it is anticipated that the new plane will be available for us in late June of this year," said Grimes.
"Whatever the weather conditions were, that was covered under our insurance."
ATR engineers came from both Miami and ATR's headquarters in France last month to assess the damaged plane and make their recommendations.
Grimes added that the new ATR will cost Bahamasair much less given that pilots will not have to be trained in France. He said ATR opened a new simulator in Miami and therefore it will cost Bahamasair much less to train pilots.
"They (ATR) agreed to provide the new aircraft for the same basic price, less some of the add-on services that we do not need this time, as we now have the capacity to train our pilots," he said.
"They will still have to do simulator training at an ATR facility, but now that they just last month opened one in Miami, that will significantly reduce the traveling time for pilot training, as opposed to going to France. This again will represent a good savings for us at Bahamasair."
He said ATR is a partner of Bahamasair and "fully understood the predicament we found ourselves in" with regard to the storm-damaged plane.
Grimes said despite Bahamasair missing one plane from its fleet, the typically busy Easter weekend will be adequately covered, as long as all of Bahamasair's other planes stay in service.
"We should be able to cover the demand," he said.

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Bahamasair Easter schedule to be unaffected by grounded aircraft

April 12, 2017

Chairman of Bahamasair Valentine Grimes said yesterday the airline is expected to cover the Easter holiday traffic adequately in light of an out-of-service aircraft that received tornado damage last month.
Grimes told Guardian Business that with the current aircraft on board, Bahamasair should be able to meet the anticipated Easter demand.
The damaged $20 million ATR aircraft is expected to be replaced with a new one, Grimes explained a month after an engineer from ATR in Miami performed initial assessments.
Shortly after the passage of the tornado last month, Grimes assured the public that Bahamasair's flight schedules would not be significantly affected by one of its aircrafts being out of commission.
The French-Italian aircraft manufacturer inked a deal in 2015 with the national carrier for a total of five new ATR aircrafts.
On a year-over-year comparison, Grimes said the airline's performance around this time has been "satisfactory year to date".
"The airline continues to make significant positive strides," he said.
Grimes touted that for the first time in 17 years, the airline received a Cacique Award for international airlines.
"It is due in part for the improved level of service that our staff have provided to the public," he said.
He added that Bahamasair is very pleased with the level of leadership being provided by the company's new Managing Director Tracy Cooper.
"We think he is the right person in the place at the right time for Bahamasair," Grimes said.
However, in the interim, an update on the financial position of the cashed-strapped airline has yet to be presented in Parliament for the budgetary period. That update would include the company's financials for the 2015/2016 fiscal year.
It was reported that by the year ending June 30, 2014, Bahamasair's deficit increased to $551.1 million, based on a net loss for fiscal year 2013/2014 of $15.7 million. In addition, given that the company's liabilities exceeded its assets at the end of that fiscal year by more than $23.5 million, the critical need for a continued government guarantee remained.

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BNFC CEO: All artists re-signed for Carnival

April 12, 2017

All of the artists contracts for Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival have been re-signed, with minimal financial implications after being cancelled last week, CEO and Managing Commissioner of the Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) Roscoe Dames, told Guardian Business yesterday.
Last week the government changed the dates of the carnival, pushing it back by two weeks in order to remove any potential conflicts with election rallies and parties. However, pressure from carnival band members, the general public and the media convinced government that the date change was a bad idea, and the original carnival dates were reinstated.
Yesterday the date for the country's general election was announced and will be held only four days after the end of carnival.
Dames said the BNFC "obviously" scrambled to change flights, but insisted that none of the artists charged any extra fees for any inconveniences caused by the date change.
"Everybody has been re-signed," he said.
"Everybody is back on board and there was no major cost implications. We were able to catch it before it got out of hand."
Dames added that the date change fiasco may have garnered more bookings for Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, though the incident was a "blip on the radar", according to him.
However, it has been a trending thought from the commission that the negative press surrounding the date change may have had a positive effect on the level of international interest in Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.
Machel Montano, who is considered the king of soca music, is expected to headline one of the nights of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.
Dames added that Grand Bahama's Music Masters semi-final show is still a go, adding that several BNFC officials were in Grand Bahama over the weekend ensuring everything is in order for April 28 and 29. Carnival in Nassau is expected to take place May 4-6.

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New post office could have cost govt less if placed at Town Centre Mall, says Symonette

April 12, 2017

Part-owner of the Town Centre Mall, Brent Symonette, suggested yesterday that the mall would have been a more cost-effective option for the new post office. The government instead entered into a public-private partnership (PPP) to construct the new General Post Office at the Independence Shopping centre opposite A.F. Adderley Junior High School.
Symonette told Guardian Business that he understands the government entered into a "multimillion" dollar contract to construct the new post office. Minister of Labor and National Insurance Shane Gibson said previously that the government was currently spending money to refurbish the General Post Office, but he could not comment on the cost of the new PPP agreement.
"I would imagine, you are going to find, they are going to spend more on renovating the building than it would have cost them to go into the Town Centre Mall," said Symonette.
"There would have been more parking. It would have been ready a lot earlier. It probably would have been more cost effective."
Symonette argued that if there was a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in place, more details would have been disclosed, such as who the government entered into the agreement with. "It would be interesting to compare dollar for dollar what they are giving," he said.
He explained that the government was in discussions with the mall's owners to locate the post office at the mall, but that deal never came to fruition. He contended that the decision rested in the hands of the government.
"Some government agencies have approached us. I can't remember when we last spoke, but I haven't heard anything recently and the matter is in their hands," said Symonette.
"We had an opportunity. I understand the post office could have been in Town Center Mall months ago. Instead, they decided to renovate a building with less parking.
"I don't know how close the other side was. We had drawn plans for the attorney general's office and the Ministry of Works had drawn plans for the post office."

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EY donates to local children's homes

April 12, 2017

EY's Nassau office recently held an internal fundraiser and donated the funds to three local children's homes: the Children's Emergency Hostel, Elizabeth Estates Children's Home and Bilney Lane Children's Home. Each home serves children with a specific need, including orphans and victims of domestic abuse.
"Giving back to local charities has always been a top priority for us, as educating the next generation is part of our mission of building stronger communities and a better working world for everyone," said Michele Thompson, Bahamas country managing partner, EY.
"We are proud to help these three vital charities fulfill their mission of providing safe and loving homes for underprivileged children in The Bahamas and making a difference in children's lives each day."
EY has a proud heritage of community involvement and identifying charities that are most in need of support. Recently, EY employees donated Christmas gifts and school supplies to Lowe Sound Primary School on Andros Island after Hurricane Matthew caused extensive damage to the school.

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Aliv sponsors Project Social

April 12, 2017

Aliv, The Bahamas' newest telecommunications company, is committed to the empowerment of young people throughout the country and assisted Project Social, a program geared at driving youth entrepreneurship and reducing youth unemployment.
Founder Tanya McFall created the program - which has a foreign language training component - for junior and senior high school students. Aliv was able to supply the project with Aliv merchandise including water bottles, hats, t-shirts, drawstring bags and umbrellas.
One of the goals of Project Social is to expose attendees to the importance of multiculturalism in The Bahamas. It also aims to encourage community leaders to provide greater opportunities to travel around the world, using their experience to make socioeconomic improvements in the country.
"Aliv is fully committed to corporate diversity. Events like Project Social provide a forum for students to share ideas, build professional networks and find the confidence to bring their ideas to life. The event was a tremendous success and we look forward to a long-term partnership," said Franklyn Butler, chairman of Aliv.
"Project Social is a youth-oriented project that will spark social, entrepreneurial innovation and increase multiculturalism while spurring foreign language training. Our aim is to create a more multicultural Bahamas while encouraging our youth to develop socially inclusive ventures that embrace foreign languages for a better, more sustainable Bahamas. While we will only be in three islands, in the near future we intend to establish this initiative in other Bahamian islands to expose residents to the opportunities available to citizens of the free world.
Project Social began in Grand Bahama, Cat Island and Eleuthera on March 30th and ended on April 7th.

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Conjuring up the boogeyman

April 12, 2017

Old-style PLP politics clearly designed to instill fear in the minds of voters that there are some foreign or white elements poised to take control of the country with an anti-PLP vote has been introduced into the 2017 general election campaign by Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell.
Mitchell did so when he addressed a political event in Marathon on Saturday night.
More than anything, it portrayed a certain level of desperation in the PLP, which faces widespread discontent from voters turned off by their government.
In one statement, Mitchell conjured up images of our pre-majority rule past. He also branded ousted Baha Mar developer Sarkis Izmirlian as a revenge-thirsty schemer, and hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon as being out to destroy the Progressive Liberal Party.
Mitchell urged voters to beware.
He warned them to reject the purported infiltration of these men in Bahamian politics, and to guard against turning The Bahamas over to them for their own reported selfish motives.
But interestingly, there was no mention of Peter Nygard, the wealthy and controversial Lyford Cay resident, who clearly views the PLP as being in his pocket, and who insulted our nation's leaders in tape recordings that went viral last year.
While speaking about who is out to control The Bahamas, Mitchell ought to have reminded the crowd how Nygard infamously declared on the night of the 2012 general election, "Yes. We got our country back!"
Is Nygard seeking to "keep our country"? Is he seeking to help the PLP stay in power?
Whom really should we fear, if there is anyone to fear at all?
Why is fear still in the bag of PLP tricks in 2017 with a more enlightened electorate?
We have been hearing very little of the issues, very little of the PLP's record as the election nears.
What Mitchell and some of his colleagues have been doing is playing on the emotions of voters, seeking to tap into any unease that may exist about the foreign element in our midst.
This is the same Mitchell who asked Bahamians to guard against xenophobia as the FNM accused the Christie administration of allowing the Chinese too much control of the Bahamian economy and influence over the actions of the Bahamian government.
Speaking of these men he suggested do not have the interests of Bahamians at heart, Mitchell told the crowd: "The Free National Movement (FNM) has some people who are representing some rich billionaires overseas.
"This is a party that has three people who used to work for Sarkis Izmirlian.
"This is a multi-millionaire who failed at Baha Mar. He's bitter. He's angry but he's got people who used to work for him who are now FNM candidates.
"The question is, if they are elected to office, will they represent the people of The Bahamas or will they be representing Sarkis Izmirlian?
"I want you to think about that and tell that to all your friends as you go door to door.
"Secondly, we have a very rich billionaire who is disgruntled with The Bahamas government and in fact hates the PLP. He's worth $24 billion.
"He funded an organization in this country called Save The Bays.
"We found out, your representative (Jerome Fitzgerald) told the House of Assembly, that $8 million passed through their accounts to fight the Progressive Liberal Party.
"When we found out, we found out that $15 million was coming, so we blew the whistle.
"Today...they've got two people that are connected with them running for the House of Assembly. They are FNM candidates.
"The question is, if the FNM is elected to office, will they be running for and representing Louis Bacon and Save The Bays or will they be representing the Bahamian people?
"That is the question you have to ask the Free National Movement."
Mitchell then suggested that Brent Symonette, the former deputy prime minister who is once again the FNM's candidate for St. Anne's, also does not have the interests of the Bahamian people at heart.
Mitchell claimed that Symonette used Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner in an attempt to get rid of Dr. Hubert Minnis as leader of the FNM.
"And then, when he led her down that garden path, he abandoned her and stuck with the FNM," Mitchell said.
"The question is, why did that happen? We believe it is because he wants to succeed his father as premier and then prime minister of The Bahamas.
"So what he has done is gotten rid of Loretta Butler-Turner out of the FNM and set it up so he could take over the FNM if the FNM comes to office, and worse, if they lose.
"The question, whose interests is Brent Symonette going to be serving? Will he be serving the interests of the Bahamian people?
"Now they tell us don't worry about this because they say Brent Symonette has no interest in taking over the FNM.
"Well, if you believe that, you believe there's a man in the moon."
Mitchell also reminded the crowd that Symonette's net worth is $60 million.
We imagine that few people would be surprised if Symonette makes a bid for leadership of the FNM down the road.
He told us last year that he was still interested, but denied more recently that his decision to re-enter frontline politics has anything to do with a desire to be leader.
That obviously remains to be seen.
Symonette is the son of Sir Roland Symonette, who was premier during the pre-majority rule government that headed a regime that denigrated Bahamians on the basis of race and deprived them of equal opportunity for advancement and full participation in the economy and society.
In the view of Mitchell and the PLP, clearly, Symonette could have no other interests of concern, but the interests of the white and wealthy class in The Bahamas.

Financing
But will this fear tactic being re-employed by the PLP be enough to convince today's electorate to trust the PLP?
That question will be answered come May 10.
Mitchell's statement also raises the long suppressed issue of money in politics.
What we will not know heading into this election and in the period after, is the role wealthy people played in keeping the PLP or any other party financially-flush and stable.
In The Bahamas, there are no rules governing money in politics.
It is laughable to hear PLPs talk of Bacon's and Izmirlian's reported money and alleged influence in this election campaign.
The PLP, if it were interested in controlling how political parties are financed, could have made the issue a priority at some point this term.
We remember in 2007 covering Perry Christie at his first press conference after the FNM defeated the PLP at the polls.
We asked him what he thinks caused his party to lose. Christie -- clearly in denial over the impact the many scandals and bad governance had on the PLP -- said the loss came about because the FNM was better funded.
Christie has expressed an interest in addressing financing and elections, but he clearly has no will to do it.
If there were laws governing the use of money in election campaigns, then perhaps we would know whether Louis Bacon or Sarkis Izmirlian are using their money to try to sway the outcome of the election.
We would also know whether any money has come in from Peter Nygard, who claimed he was a major financier of the PLP's 2012 election campaign and suggested that certain promises were made to him.
In 2013, dangerous perceptions were created with the release of Nygard's "Take back the Bahamas" video, which showed his flamboyant frolicking with government ministers.
In another video, Nygard bizarrely proclaims: "I have been dedicated to this country more than any single person in this whole country. There's testimonial after testimonial."
But the audio tapes that emerged during the controversy surrounding explosive claims last year that Nygard was involved in a plot to murder his neighbor, Bacon, and members of Save The Bays, were damning -- although Nygard denied the claim that he was involved in a criminal conspiracy.
The Bahamas is portrayed in those recordings as being for sale.
Among other things, Nygard says in one of the recordings that Christie "lacks f_______ courage".
A suggestion is also made in the recordings that Christie made certain promises to Nygard relating to land.
"There is no f________ reason why he should take this long...," says Nygard, in discussing the issue of a land lease.
He adds that Christie had been distant because "he was embarrassed about meeting me... He can't face me".
Nygard also says there has been promise after promise.
PLP ministers like Mitchell did not appear to be publicly bothered by Nygard's claims. They did not condemn him, although Christie denied promising Nygard any favors.
PLP ministers are quick to claim that Louis Bacon's funding of Save The Bays is seedy and being done for wicked purposes.
It is easy for a political party to cast its opponents as being under the influence of foreign elements.
It is something the PLP has been doing from the days of Lynden Pindling.
It is not entirely surprising, but wholly insulting that the PLP in 2017 still pulls this card in election campaigns, while ignoring the questionable comments of a controversial character who has repeatedly suggested he is able to control the PLP with his money.
Promoting fear is the kind of political trickery the PLP should retire.
Mitchell knows better, but he plays on the fears of those he thinks are ignorant, which is how the PLP governs.
We want our politicians to campaign on the issues, debate the issues; issues like the national debt, healthcare and crime will continue to have a profound impact on the nation after the election.
Where are the prescriptions and the solutions?
We suspect the impact of this tactic of fear will be far from significant this time around.
Our politics should be maturing to the point where that is not something that is employed by politicians who want the trust of the Bahamian people.

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Out of his depth

April 12, 2017

Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday again refused to take any questions from the media.
We raised the matter last week of Minnis choosing to remain scripted heading into the general election.
Bahamians should take note.
There is much to be said about a man who wants to be prime minister -- and who could very well end up being prime minister in a month -- refusing to take questions from the media.
He is clearly unable or afraid to explain his position on anything, or expound on the vague policies he has sprinkled in his rally speeches in recent months.
He appears out of his depth.
Last Thursday, we were advised that Minnis will hold a press conference to discuss the many discrepancies on the voter register we reported on a day before.
But when our reporters arrived at FNM headquarters, they were informed after a period of waiting that the notification that Minnis would speak to the media was a mistake and party chairman, Sidney Collie, would instead do so.
Yesterday, after Parliament was dissolved, we were again advised by the FNM that Minnis will hold a press conference.
He showed up this time and read a prepared statement, declaring that the "PLP misrule of the past five years has finally come to an end", and that this election will be a referendum on "corruption versus transparency".
Collie told reporters that Minnis had somewhere to go and would not take questions.
In a statement yesterday evening, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts accurately observed: "It's shocking and unbelievable that the man who wants to be prime minister turns his back on the press.
"Minnis has also refused to debate the man he seeks to replace, Prime Minister Perry G. Christie. Clearly, the Bahamian people will draw the correct conclusion, that Minnis is unprepared and not ready for the high office of prime minister."
The many excuses being given to the media provide for us a clear indication that Minnis is not interested in taking questions.
After numerous blunders this term, perhaps he has been advised by senior people in the FNM to just read his press releases and speeches.
No one should expect him to debate Christie or Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney.
No doubt, Minnis expects that the national anti-PLP mood means he will cruise to an election victory come May 10.
We believe voters should take this as a clear sign that Minnis would have substantial challenges as prime minister.
If we could get Minnis to take questions, we would be interested in asking him about his tax exemption plan for Over-the-Hill communities.
How exactly would it be structured?
Given Freeport is a free trade zone having suffered economic troubles for 15 years now, why does he believe an Over-the-Hill would benefit from an economic zone?
What are his specific plans for Grand Bahama?
Given his concern about the PLP's handling of the country's finances, what would be his detailed approach to ensuring that the country's finances don't deteriorate further?
Given his criticisms about the PLP administration's failure to make any appreciable dent in the unemployment situation, what would be his plans to generate the level of jobs needed to get the unemployment rate down?
Minnis has also pledged to eliminate value-added tax (VAT) off breadbasket items, healthcare, electricity and water bills.
Given that VAT has now been incorporated into the revenue stream of the country, any cut in VAT would result in a decrease in revenue. Where does he see the government making the revenue to avoid worsening the deficit and thereby increasing the national debt?
What would be different about his crime strategy compared to what is the crime strategy now and the strategy under the Ingraham administration?
While it is important to know what Minnis intends to do differently from the current administration, it may also be instructive to hear what he intends to do differently vis-a-vis Hubert Ingraham, whose administration also saw alarmingly high crime levels.
Minnis was a minister in Ingraham's Cabinet. Sometimes, he tries to distance himself from Ingraham administration decisions, and from career politicians like Ingraham. He says career politicians have run our country into the ground.
At other times, however, he owns the accomplishments of the Ingraham government.
Minnis has called for the "popping of necks" in response to high crime.
How exactly does he intend to resume capital punishment? What would be the path toward this?
Has he even considered it, or was he pandering, as he often did this term?
Given tourism's import to the country, how would he get us over this seemingly five million tourism cap so that more of those tourists represent overnight visitors as opposed to cruise visitors?
What are Minnis' specific plans for National Health Insurance and his road map to get us there?
Is this plan in the mind of Dr. Duane Sands only?
The FNM wants to focus on catastrophic health insurance. How would that be funded?
We could go on listing the things reporters intend to ask Minnis, if they ever get a chance.
As the election draws closer, many are anxious to see the back of Perry Christie.
But the prospects of Minnis as prime minister of The Bahamas scares us to no end.

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Don't make desperate decisions

April 12, 2017

As all of My Regular Readers will indeed be fully aware of; decision making is a most important factor when it comes to getting ahead in life. We must be decisive if we are to solve everyday problems and thus finally achieve the goals and objectives we've set for ourselves and/or our business. However, I want to make an extremely important point here relative to the overall decision making process. When some people are presented with a problem, particularly a major problem, let's say to do with one's finances; far too many panic and thus take rather drastic measures to solve the problem which, in the end causes more problems than they actually solve.
Let me give you an example. Let's say a person gets into some sort of financial situation, either relative to their personal finances or from a business prospective. They need to come up with a large amount of money to satisfy a creditor. Now, this person cannot go to their bank as they have already got several loans there and are therefore unable to get any more credit or loans from them.
So in desperation, when they are not thinking clearly, they go to a well known 'Loan Shark' who gives them the money they require to satisfy their creditors; however, the interest rate is way above what it should be and the payments have to be made on time or else they'll really be in trouble. So this person who made a Desperate Decision ends up in a worse place than the one they were originally in.
So what is the sensible, the prudent thing to do under such circumstances, when one is faced with a serious problem and decisions have to be made? The answer is: Firstly, go into a period of quiet meditation and take your problem to 'Source'. Then in a calm, relaxed fashion, perhaps with the sound advice of a trusted Friend or Counselor make the decision in a calm, relaxed, methodical and sensible manner. In a nutshell, as today's title states it 'Don't Make Desperate Decisions'.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to 'Time to Think' the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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Election May 10th

April 12, 2017

Ending weeks of speculation, Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday announced that the next general election will be held on Wednesday, May 10.
Nomination Day is set for April 20.
Christie's announcement came during a live national broadcast on ZNS came minutes after Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade, acting in his capacity as provost marshal, read a proclamation from Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling dissolving Parliament.
During his address at the Office of the Prime Minister, Christie said, "Every seat in the House of Assembly is now vacant.
"It is now left to you, the citizenry of our beloved nation, to decide who will fill those seats in the next House of Assembly.
"In doing so, you will also be deciding who will form the government of The Bahamas for the next five years.
"You will make that momentous decision in what I'm confident will be free and fair elections following a spirited, but peaceful campaign.
"Let us contest the forthcoming election with all the vigor at our command.
"Let us do so, however, with respect for the human dignity of our opponents and with respect for the traditions we all hold dear."
Christie noted The Bahamas is one of the oldest democracies in the hemisphere, with a Parliament dating back hundreds of years.
He said the conduct of all involved in the general election must continue to "prove ourselves worthy of the great democratic traditions of free, fair and peaceful elections that have made our country the marvel of nations around the world".
"I have every confidence that we shall," Christie said.
"And so, my fellow Bahamians, it is over to you now.
"Together, you will decide the way forward.
"You shall do so in general elections that will take place in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on Wednesday, the 10th of May, 2017.
"May Almighty God guide you in this great endeavor and may Almighty God bless our great nation."
Outside the House of Assembly around 9:30 a.m., Greenslade read the proclamations from the governor general dissolving Parliament with immediate effect and revealing that the next session of Parliament will begin on May 24.
"Whereas the Parliament of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas stands dissolved from the 11th day of April 2017, and whereas it is provided by Article 65 of the constitution, that each session of the Parliament shall be held at such place and commence at such time as the governor general may by proclamation appoint, now therefore, I Dame Marguerite Pindling, governor general of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, acting in accordance with the advice of the prime minister, do hereby proclaim that the next session of Parliament shall be held in the city of Nassau, in the island of New Providence, on Wednesday the 24th day of May, 2017, and shall commence at 10 o'clock..."
Voter registration for the general election ended on Monday.
The Free National Movement (FNM) has said for months that whenever the prime minister calls the general election it will be ready.
Both the FNM and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have named a full slate of candidates.
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has announced candidates for the vast majority of seats to be contested.
More than 155,000 people voted in the last general election, out of more than 172,000 people who registered to vote.
Just over 10,000 votes separated the PLP from the FNM in the May 7, 2012 general election.
The FNM secured 65,518 votes (42 percent) and the PLP secured 75,806 votes (48.6 percent).
The DNA received a combined total of 13,186 votes (8.4 percent).
Independent candidates collectively got 1,294 votes to make up 0.83 percent of the votes.
The PLP won 29 seats, with the FNM capturing 10.
It lost the North Abaco seat to the PLP in the October by-election in 2012.
In the 2007 general election, just under 4,000 votes separated the FNM from the PLP, which ended with the FNM winning 23 of the 41 seats.
The PLP won 18 seats.

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National exams postponed

April 12, 2017

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has postponed the dates for several national examinations that were scheduled to take place on election day, May 10.
In a notice issued to all government and independent schools across the country yesterday, the ministry advised that the Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT) for both grades three and six, which was scheduled to be held from May 8-12 has been rescheduled to May 15-19.
Two Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations were expected to take place on May 10.
They are the Graphical Communication Paper 2 and Music Paper 1.
They will be held on June 7 at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.
Education Director Lionel Sands also advised that a BGCSE Food and Nutrition Practical and a Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) Family and Consumer Science exam were also scheduled for May 10, but have been postponed to May 12.
He said it is not an unusual case for national exams to fall around the same date as an election.
In these instances, he said, the ministry simply moves the date two school days back.

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Hall: About 170,000 registered to vote

April 12, 2017

Voter registration continued up to midnight Tuesday, according to Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall, who said yesterday there were approximately 170,000 people registered to vote for the May 10 general election.
Voter registration ended on Monday.
Registration centers were crowded with long lines throughout much of the day.
Several voters expressed frustration about the prolonged wait, despite having a year and a half to register.
Hall said when he left the Parliamentary Registration Department on Farrington Road around midnight, several people were still being registered to vote.
The department was expected to close at 5 p.m.
When asked about the final numbers, Hall said his department was working on them, but there were around 170,00 people registered.
The department has 14 days to finalize the voter register.
Just over 172,000 people registered to vote in the last general election.
However, the number of registered voters this time around was expected to be higher given the additional eligible voters.
According to data released by the department, the number of eligible voters was estimated at 183,000.
Anyone who has still not registered will not be able to vote in the election next month.
Hall previously said there is "voter apathy" throughout the country.
When he made that statement last November, voter registration stood at 34 percent (56,823 voters) of the estimated eligible voters.
When compared to the same period five years ago, there were 134,000 registered voters.
But voter turnout will likely be the final indicator of the apathy of the electorate.
Voter turnout in the 2007 general election was 92 percent.
In the 2012 general election, 90.5 percent of registered voters cast their ballots.
Though not a general election, voter turnout in the June 7 gender equality referendum was 46.66 percent.
A total of 179,972 people were registered to vote.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade, in his capacity as provost marshal, read a proclamation from the governor general yesterday morning declaring Parliament dissolved.
Immediately following, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced the date of the general election.
Nomination Day is April 20.

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Minnis: All hands on deck to get rid of PLP

April 12, 2017

Following the announcement of the May 10 election date yesterday, Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis charged it signalled the end of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and encouraged "all hands on deck" to vote the PLP out.
Minnis was addressing a room full of FNM candidates and supporters.
"I join Bahamians everywhere who are overjoyed that change will come on May 10th," Minnis said.
"Bahamians everywhere will have the opportunity to usher in that change.
"The PLP misrule of the past five years has finally come to an end. "And I want you to make no mistake, this election is a referendum on the past
versus the future;
corruption versus transparency; politicians interested in keeping their job, rather than working on behalf of the Bahamian people and secret deals.
"This is, indeed, the people's time."
Minnis pointed to several of the scandals that have rocked the current Christie administration, highlighting the millions unaccounted for at the Road Traffic Department and the Rubis oil spill in Marathon.
"Under the PLP, unemployment has increased," he said.
"Poverty levels have increased.
"Our (national) debt continues to increase.
"Murder and criminal activities continue to increase, while our credit rating continues to decrease to a level of junk bond status."
Unemployment has actually dropped over the last few labor force surveys, though many have doubted the accuracy of the numbers released by the Department of Statistics.
The FNM leader charged that a new day will come under the FNM, insisting that the party will "weed out corruption at all levels and prosecute corrupt politicians to the full extent of the law", and invest in education and crime fighting.
"We have assembled a change team," he said.
"They bring experience, skill and know-how that is necessary to rescue our country.
"We call on all Bahamians to come together and work with your FNM candidates to ensure that the people of The Bahamas do not have to suffer another five years under a Progressive Liberal Party government.
"The bell has been rung.
"We need all hands on deck to go out and vote them out.
"I know we can do this. It's the people's time."
Minnis did not take questions from the media, but instead read from a prepared statement.
The party will host its first mass rally on April 18 at R.M. Bailey Park.

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Mitchell fires back at Minnis over jobs claim

April 12, 2017

Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said in a statement yesterday that the statement made by Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis accusing him of giving out citizenships left, right and center is a "damnable and contemptible falsehood and untruth".

"It is libelous and defamatory. It is one more demonstration that the leader of the FNM is not fit for the purpose," Mitchell said.
"I have six years to bring an action in defamation. Time is longer than rope. I hope when his silly season is over that he is able to learn the difference between facts and fiction, fair comment and defamation. There are costs associated with it."
Mitchell added: "The statement made by me on Saturday, April 8 which he sought to answer are statements of policy, not personal invective.
"He has still not answered the fundamental issues: Would the FNM fire the 3,500 workers that are being put on the permanent pensionable?
"Would the FNM fire those in the empowerment program? These are all policies of the PLP to protect public sector jobs.
"What is their program for jobs? He has no answers, just personal attacks.
"The PLP believes in jobs for our people and protecting our country and its workers. I pledge to continue to work for the workers of the country."
Addressing a PLP crowd at Claridge Park on Saturday, Mitchell said some of his constituents have asked him what will happen to them once the 52-week job training program comes to an end.
"First of all, the PLP has no 52-week program," Mitchell said.
"That's number one. Number two, it's (the PLP's jobs program) an empowerment program.
"You were hired by the government and the only way that will change is if you elect the FNM to be the government.
"So, what you need to do on Election Day is make sure the PLP is the government.
"Then, you don't have to worry about losing no jobs."
The 52-week jobs program was an initiative that started under the FNM in 2011.
Mitchell pointed out that the prime minister pledged last year to make 3,500 civil servants permanent and pensionable, and "that is happening right now as we speak".
He continued, "So, the only thing you have to worry about is if the FNM takes over in May.
"If you vote PLP you don't have to worry about whether you are going to lose your job after the election."

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Roberts slams Minnis for avoiding media

April 12, 2017

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday lambasted Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis for his refusal to take questions from the press and once again encouraged voters "not to turn the clock back" on the work the Christie administration has done over the past five years.
In a press conference following the announcement of the March 10 election date, Minnis told FNM candidates and supporters to put "all hands on deck" as they prepared to remove the PLP from governance.
After he read his prepared statement, the media was then informed by FNM Chairman Sidney Collie that Minnis would not be taking any questions due to an important meeting immediately following the press conference.
"It's shocking and unbelievable that the man who wants to be prime minister turns his back on the press," Roberts said in a statement to the press.
"Minnis has also refused to debate the man he seeks to replace, Prime Minister Perry G. Christie.
"Clearly the Bahamian people will draw the correct conclusion, that Minnis is unprepared and not ready for the high office of prime minister."
Roberts warned against putting the FNM in office to undo what he claims the PLP has done.
"The FNM has a legacy and a history of opposing and cancelling progress," he said.
"The record of the FNM is clear on these matters. There can be no backing away from this.
"If Bahamians want to move this country forward together and build on the progress we have made together over the last five years, I urge them to vote PLP.
"Return the PLP to power to continue this important work on their behalf."
The PLP chairman called on "all Bahamians to exercise their constitutional rights and participate in this democratic process".
He also called for a "peaceful general election consistent with our country's legacy and international reputation as a free, modern and stable democratic state".

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Major: Time for fixed election dates

April 12, 2017

Speaker of the House of Assembly Dr. Kendal Major yesterday agreed with the need for fixed election dates, following Prime Minister Perry Christie's announcement that the next general election will be held on May 10.
Major was a guest on the Guardian Radio show "Let's Talk Live" with host Carlton Smith.
As it stands, the constitution gives the prime minister the right to set the election date, within certain constraints, of a five-year period.
When asked whether he felt the time has come to set fixed election dates, Major said, "Absolutely, absolutely.
"I think it is something that I have been public in my pronouncements before, with respect to even the operation of the speaker, in terms of having fixed dates for the House to sit.
"These are all part and parcel of what I would call a disciplined and a prepared and an organized [government].
"I believe we are at a stage in our democracy within the Westminster [system] where we could determine that a fixed date for election should be held every five years."
However, he noted parliamentarians have "used this [argument] for and against over the years".
Major then referred to the early days of Majority Rule as an argument against fixed election dates.
In the aftermath of the January 10, 1967 general election, both the United Bahamian Party (UBP) and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won 18 seats.
The tie was broken when Randol Fawkes and Alvin Braynen threw their support behind the PLP, ushering the era of Majority Rule.
Thirteen months later, then Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling called a snap election on April 10, 1968, where the PLP overwhelmingly won 29 seats.
"You can argue one way or another for it," Major said.
"Within the Westminster system it has some nuances, it has some flexibility, to augment it either way for the benefit of our people.
"I think a discussion needs to be had with respect to exactly what is in our best interest and what the Bahamian people would seek is in their best interest."
The debate on fixed election dates has been ongoing, particularly in light of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival recently being postponed and then reverted to the original dates over concerns about conflict with election rallies.
The Office of the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Parliament a week before the date.
Christie said this was done in order to "put more certainty into the process" of registration.
The prime minister's election date announcement yesterday came minutes after Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade, acting in his capacity as provost marshal, read a proclamation from Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling dissolving Parliament.
Parliament is expected to resume on May 24.

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