Bahamas Chamber of Commerce
Khaalis Rolle elected new president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce
By Leah Davis
May 31, 2009 - 9:43:54 PM

Newly elected President of the Chamber of Commerce, Khaalis Rolle. Photo: Tim Aylen

Nassau, The Bahamas - Khaalis Rolle, Chief Marketing Officer at Bahamas Ferries, was elected president of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce during its recent 2009 Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the British Colonial Hilton. Chamber members also elected a new slate of officers and directors for the Chamber’s 2009-2010 Administrative Year.

Rolle is the principal of Nassau Water Ferries and a part time lecturer at The College of the Bahamas. Having served on the Chamber’s board since 2004, he is no stranger to the business of the Chamber and expressed his enthusiasm about continuing to represent the interests of the private sector. Thanking members for their support, Rolle said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you as President and look forward to lobbying the government on issues and policies that affect that way we do business in the Bahamas.”

Anxious to tackle the objectives of his new office, Rolle explained that it would be one of his main priorities to ensure that the small and medium sized enterprise (SME) unit of the Chamber becomes fully functional. “The SME Unit will provide the technical support needed by the greater percentage our membership to enhance their competitiveness and more immediately, to survive the current business crisis.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting with and developing relationships with the membership to further appreciate the needs of the business community and reassure them of the Chamber’s relevance to the continued success of their businesses. My term will be membership-focused and our objectives will be to deliver tangible, measurable and recognizable support.” The Chamber of Commerce currently has a membership of approximately 500.


Effective June 1, 2009, the incoming president will head a new board of Officers comprised of 1st Vice President, Gershan Major (Mail Boxes Etc.); 2nd Vice President, Chester Cooper (British American Financial); Honorary Treasurer, Darron Cash (First Caribbean Bank); and Honorary Secretary, Yvette Sands (Sands & Associates).

Saluting the Chamber’s new board, the new President noted, “I will have the pleasure of working with a very diverse and energetic board, representative of the entire business community. The diversity of the board brings added value to our membership as we represent the issues and policies affecting the private sector and the way we do business.   We will work to maintain an open line of communication with the government to ensure private sector representation on the relevant policy making and decisions.”

Giving the President’s Report, outgoing president, Dionisio D’Aguilar, conveyed highlights of his term over the last two years. “It gave me great pride to take this office that my father held. I was particularly happy to serve when my father was alive.”

 Vincent D’Aguilar served as Chamber President from 1977-79 and in 1987. Mr. D’Aguilar reflected that it made his father proud to see his son rise to the top of an organization to which he contributed much of his time and which was near and dear to him.

L-R: 2009-10 Board of Directors and Officers: Aaron Brice; Gershan Major; Diane Morley; Dionisio D’Aguilar; Khaalis Rolle; Senator Tanya Wright; Yvette Sands; Tim Covington; Philip Simon, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce (missing from picture: Chester Cooper, Darron Cash, Rick Hazelwood, Dr. Jonathan Rodgers, Robert Myers, Odley Aritis, Pedro Roberts, Merrit Storr, Creswell Gardiner) Photo: Tim Aylen

Known for being a strong voice for the business community, D’Aguilar noted, “I particularly enjoyed being president because it has allowed me to get off my chest some of my concerns about the way business is done in this country. I lobbied hard during my term in office for the large anchor projects because I felt they would cushion us during the impending economic downtown.” He expressed happiness about the progress being made by Albany and looked to the AGM’s guest speaker, Sarkis Izmirlian, to give an update on the Baha Mar project.

In his usual frank nature, D’Aguilar expressed disappointment that the banking community has been unable to establish the automated clearing house (A.C.H.), “They’ve promised that will it happen this year but needless to say after two years of promises I’m not holding my breath.”

Speaking to the current economic recession, he lamented, “Sales are down, expenses are up, especially energy costs, and this has placed has an enormous downward pressure on companies’ profits. The government needs to be constantly reminded that ensuring a healthy viable private sector is key to a successful economy.”

Having become a regular with the local media, D’Aguilar thanked the press for their support, “I think the journalists of this country enjoyed my candidness and my willingness to ‘tell it like it is’ in my usual undiplomatic style.”

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Baha Mar Resorts Ltd., Mr. Sarkis Izmirlian, delivered the AGM’s keynote address on the topic “Are We Ready For The Recovery?” “ Yes, our community is feeling the adverse affects of the recession but at the same time our community has the opportunity to implement strategic initiatives so that we can be well positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery.”  

Izmirlian highlighted the need for major reform to various areas including education, gaming regulations, the port and downtown, the airport and the country’s investment process.

Conveying well wishes to the outgoing President: “ He has always taken a vocal position to protect and enhance the business environment of the Bahamas.   His straight talk and frank approach has been a refreshing change.   Even with all the bad news in the papers over the past months, I always looked forward to reading the papers and learning of his latest crusade. I know the newspapers will miss him as much as all of us will.”

The Chamber’s 2009-10 board of directors was elected during the AGM and consists of the President, Khaalis Rolle; 1st Vice President, Gershan Major; 2nd Vice President, Chester Cooper; Honorary Treasurer, Darron Cash; Honorary Secretary, Yvette Sands; Rick Hazelwood, John Bull Group of Companies; Dr. Jonathan Rodgers, Pearle Vision; Robert Myers, Caribbean Landscape Ltd.; Diane Morley, Coles of Nassau; Odley Aritis, TOP Builders; Aaron Brice, Epic Battery Ltd.; Pedro Roberts, Commonwealth Drug & Medical Supplies Company Limited; Merrit Storr, Chancellors Chambers; Creswell Gardiner; Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) Limited.

L-R: Khaalis Rolle, President of the Chamber of Commerce; Sarkis Izmirlian, CEO and Chairman of Baha Mar Resorts; Dionisio D’Aguilar, outgoing Chamber President. Photo: Tim Aylen

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