This week in Parliament
Parliament of The Bahamas met
on Wednesday and
Thursday of this week where
parliamentarians completed debate and unanimously passed into law the much
anticipated Freedom of Information Act 2017. The bill is on its way to the
Senate for debate and passage.
tabled in the House was the much anticipated Boundaries Commission report for
the upcoming 2017 general elections. A new seat, Saint Barnabas, was added in
central New Providence, bringing the total number of seats to thirty-nine. The
former constituency of Montague was renamed Freetown to reflect the history and
heritage of that part of New Providence said Prime Minister Christie. Several
settlements in the North Eleuthera constituency were transferred to the Central
and South Eleuthera constituency. Speaker of the House and Commission chair the
Hon. Kendal Major said there were no drastic changes made to the boundaries. As
of Friday, 10th February, 100,556 persons had registered to vote.
Prime Minister Christie tabled the Grand Bahama (Port Area)
Investment Incentives Regulations 2017, which outlines the application process
for certain licensees of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) to receive
Minister for Investment the Hon. Khaalis Rolle provided an update on the
amended Heads of Agreement for the construction of the $200 million Pointe
Hotel on Bay Street. He told House members that the project was scaled down,
with a smaller marina to better protect the environment and repeated the
intention of the government not to increase the number of work permits already
granted for the project.
On Thursday, the Government tabled a bill in the House
of Assembly that aims to create a “single legal framework” that would allow the
Commissioner of Police to obtain warrant from a judge to intercept and examine
a person’s communications from telecommunications operators, internet providers
and postal services for a period of three months. This bill seeks to protect
the country from acts of sabotage, subversion and treason from parties within
and outside the territorial borders of The Bahamas.
Christie to IMME: “Transform
the lives of our children”
While speaking at
the opening ceremony of the 9th Inter-American Meeting of Ministers
of Education (IMME) on February 9, 2017, Prime Minister Christie challenge delegates to use their two
days of sessions build meaningful alliances and formulate policies that would propel
“meaningful action to transform the lives of our children.”
"Each level of education” said Mr. Christie, “be it
pre-school, primary, high school or tertiary -- has its unique set of
challenges. However, if we are able to build alliances and advance towards the
Sustainable Development Goals, much can be accomplished to elevate the value
that our citizens place on education."
"The Sustainable Development Goals have specific
targets to be achieved over the next 15 years and Goal 4 is specific to education
and aims to 'ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote
life-long learning',” Prime Minister Christie said.
"We have an obligation, as I have indicated, to ensure
that every child from [the] very first day of school is able to realize the importance
of an education. Then, and only then, will they be able to make full use of the
number of years spent in school.”
The theme of the 9th high level meeting of hemispheric
Education Ministers at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island was
The Inter-American Education Agenda:
Building Alliances and Advancing Towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Bahamas and OAS ink
MOU for Small Business Development Center
Bahamas is now the beneficiary of a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as
a result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed
Thursday between The
Bahamas and the Organization of American States (OAS).
The Hon. Michael Halkitis, the Bahamas’ Minister of
State for Finance, and His Excellency Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the
OAS, signed the agreement during the 9th Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of
Education at Atlantis, Paradise Island.
In attendance was His Excellency Elliston Rahming,
Bahamas Ambassador to the United Nations in New York and Permanent
Representative to the OAS, and Kim Osborne, Chief of the Technical Cooperation
Section of the OAS Executive Secretariat for Integral Development.
Citing section 7.5 of The country’s first National
Development Plan called VISION2040 which speaks to Small and Medium Enterprises
(SME’s), Minister Halkitis called the signing an honour. The establishment of the
center is designed to assist in the reduction of poverty and discrimination
through social entrepreneurship by, “establishing potential models for
development in civil society and social enterprises that are proven and can be
The Bahamas will be a part of the second phase of the
Caribbean Small Business Development Center Project and the SBDC establishment will
provide necessary technical assistance to enable quality and targeted support
for micro, small and medium-sized businesses as SBDC is the driving force for
economic and social development within any economy.
criticizes government on VAT reporting
at the 114th Anglican Diocesan Synod, Bishop Laish Boyd criticized
the Government for unaccounted funds in numerous government agencies as he said
citizens may be “less hostile” about paying VAT if the Christie administration
could give an account of how money is spent.
Anglican Bishop however did not explain how the government breached or violated
the three fundamental laws governing public finances as support and
justification for his broad criticism. They are Article 128 of the Constitution
which establishes the Consolidated Fund; the Financial Administration and Audit
Act and the Central Bank of The Bahamas Act 1974.
central bank reports regularly, both quantitatively and qualitatively, on how
the Bahamas government sources public revenue and on what expense items public
funds are spent. It is noteworthy that in addition to its chief role of banking
policymaker and regulator, the central Bank of The Bahamas is an official policy
reporting institution of the central government, has done this for more than
forty years and its credibility has never been called into question by local
and international bodies.
Tracy Cooper named new Managing Director of
of Bahamasair Holdings Ltd. Valentine Grimes announced that Tracy J. Cooper, a
31-year veteran of the national flag carrier is its new Managing Director during
a reception at the Bahamasair Holdings corporate office on Coral Road on Thursday,
February 9, 2017.
Chairman explained that Mr. Cooper was most
recently the Director of Maintenance and he is a highly accomplished Engineer,
Technical Manager and Leader having successfully completed his Bachelor’s
Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from St. Louis University and his Master’s
Degree in Business Administration from the University of Miami.
Mr. Cooper takes over the reins from the late Henry Woods,
who passed away last year.
executives named were John Fowler as the new Senior Director of Customer
Service and Assistant to the Managing Director bringing 17 years of service
with the national flag carrier. Customer service is the largest department in
Bahamasair, including ground handling, ramp and cargo support services in The
Bahamas and in Florida.
Also newly appointed to the post of Director of Maintenance
& Engineering is Prince Storr, a thirty year industry veteran who played a
pivotal role in the acquisition of Bahamasair’s new aircraft fleet.
Davis outlines strategic plan for Bahamasair
During the reception to announce
Bahamasair’s new management team
on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Works and Urban Development the Hon. Philip Davis outlined the
strategic plan for Bahamasair. The plan involved a restructuring of the
domestic routes and the potential outsourcing of low density routes to reduce
the airline’s losses.
Additionally said Minister Davis,
the strategic plan calls for the national flag carrier to explore route expansion
opportunities internationally to open up new markets to service our tourism
“Expansion of routes into the
West Coast of the United States and Canada is being explored along with more
direct flights between the Family Islands and Florida. Development of a strong partnership with Baha
Mar is being explored to provide airlift support for the resort.”
He noted that the expansion of the international routes has begun with
the reintroduction of service into Haiti.
The Deputy Prime Minister said, “in
addition to the improvement and expansion of its domestic and international
routes, it is Bahamasair’s position that equal emphasis should be placed on the
establishment of a National Air Transport Policy to address approval of
operators, fair competition and safe operations.”
As for the company’s physical plant, Mr. Davis revealed that
early talks are underway on plans to construct a new head office for Bahamasair
at a cost of $5m to $7m. He added that while the Christie administration had
given thought early in its term to privatizing the national airline, efforts by
the company’s executives are proving to be fruitful enough to sustain the airline
The FNM has outlined its goals to fight crime should the
party win the next general election, noting in its recently released Manifesto
plans to establish a national neighborhood watch program in every community,
re-institute term limits for the commissioner of police, establish sexual
offenders register and enforce Marco’s Law. Also its version of NHI, privatize
BPL, a junkanoo theme park, single sex public schools, right-sizing government
agencies that deal with SME and proposed various tax concessions including tweaks
In responding, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis was
critical of the FNM’s intention to privatize BPL, likening it to the party’s
controversial decision to sell BTC during the Ingraham administration. Education
Minister Jerome Fitzgerald criticized FNM South Beach candidate Jeffrey Lloyd’s
proposal to separate the education of boys and girls in classes and schools,
calling the plan “outdated” and that many of the education proposals ”are already
well underway”. PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts
on Sunday decried shame on former
Deputy Commissioner of Police and FNM candidate for Mount Moriah Marvin Dames,
accusing him of attempting to “distance himself” from “anti-crime policies he
designed and implemented”.
The minute Official Opposition Leader Butler-Turner
nominates herself as an independent candidate for Long Island she will no
longer be a member of the FNM, the party’s Chairman Sidney Collie said on
Local talk show host Ortland Bodie Jr. claimed he was terminated
on Friday as the host of Real Talk Live on MORE-FM without explanation. He
confirmed this in an exclusive interview with ZNS TV-13. The station denied this,
stating that he was suspended from his “usual duties as host” until some
internal issues related to Mr. Bodie could be sorted out.
In keeping with its commitment to providing a reliable
and safe water supply to all communities around the country, the Water &
Sewerage Corporation recently teamed up with nurses within the public
healthcare system to promote the health benefits of city water usage,
particularly within close knit communities like Pinewood Gardens.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has
praised The Bahamas after its fourth hosting of the Caribbean Travel
Marketplace within the last six years.
on Monday dismissed Prime Minister Christie’s
“no merit” recusal application which argued that she, while awaiting an
approval of her application to extend her tenure as Supreme Court judge, cannot
be perceived to be impartial in hearing an ongoing judicial review into
allegations that Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard illegally increased the size
of his property.
Bahamian students in the United States have nothing to
fear when travelling home to The Bahamas, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred
Mitchell indicated yesterday.
BPL announced that it will present its amended
Small-Scale Renewable Generation Plan to the Utilities Regulation and
Competition Authority (URCA) imminently.
Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell on
Monday defended his ministry’s decision to bar an international human rights
agency from the Carmichael Road Detention Center, insisting that the move was
due in large part to the organization’s connection to local groups alleged to
be orchestrating plans to “destabilize” the Government.
Representatives of civic groups that have been calling
for strong freedom of information legislation have applauded the Government for
bringing a Freedom of Information Act to debate, declaring that with a few
changes in the draft bill, The Bahamas could become a “world leader” in
Prime Minister Christie sat through a series of
presentation related to the Dubai Expo 2020, as student groups from the
University of The Bahamas pitched design concepts for the country’s cultural
pavilion set to go on display at the event. The design concepts are part of a
competition for the best design for the Bahamas pavilion at the expo.
James Smith, former Finance Minister,
criticized RBC’s top regional economist for reaching a “too superficial” and
“self-serving” conclusion that The Bahamas is squandering its VAT revenue
A week after Sunwing Travel Group revealed that it would
no longer continue as the hotel operator for Memories Grand Bahama Beach &
Casino Resort (Memories), the company announced yesterday that former employees
would receive redundancy payouts in a two-day process starting
Western Air planes carrying scores of passengers were involved in two incidents in Grand Bahama this week. According to reports, the aircraft carrying 33 passengers experienced technical challenges and was forced to make an emergency landing. It skidded off the runway into bushes. While no one was severely injured, two passengers were reportedly taken to hospital to receive medical treatment for minor injuries. Investigations are underway.
Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company Limited has announced
a $2 million expansion in Grand Bahama. Company president, James “Jimmy” Sands
made the announcement during a press conference at the Ministry for Grand
Bahama on February 6.
Freeport News noted that residents of East of Grand
Bahama joined central and local government officials
on Tuesday for the
official announcement of the completion and handing over of Phase One of the
district’s Water Project. Minister Darville, also revealed that Phase Two of
the project will begin shortly.
The Ministry of Education is considering arming security
officers stationed at public schools at night in the wake of several recent
It was reported that an estimated 10,000 persons have
applied for 1,500 open positions at the Baha Mar resort, said Vice President of
Human Resources and Organizational Development Kirsty Cowper. Baha Mar has
contacted displaced employees about their interest in reapplying at the resort.
Robert “Sandy” Sands, Senior Vice-President of Administration and External
Affairs at Baha Mar, pointed out that the Government, in collaboration with
relative parties, is working to ensure that there is sufficient airlift to meet
the mega-resort’s demand for the 2018 winter season.
Cabinet has approved recommendations from the Parole and
Re-entry Steering Committee concerning rehabilitation of prisoners, said National
Security Minister Dr. Nottage. The recommendations submitted to Dr. Nottage
last September, have not been disclosed to the public.
Uniformed officers of the Department of Customs are being
asked to individually sign documents outlining that they want to be paid sums
agreed to by the Bahamas Customs and Immigration Allied Workers Union.
According to a statement released by Minister of Labour Shane Gibson on
Wednesday, the money will be paid no later than the end of March.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis yesterday accused former
Bahamas Bar Association President Elsworth Johnson of attacking the Bahamian
judiciary in a bid to jumpstart his political career as a candidate for the
FNM. Mr. Johnson said that the judiciary was politicized.
Senator Julian Russell will represent the PLP as its
candidate for Central Grand Bahama at the general election after being selected
from among two others by the party’s Candidates Committee.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe
on Wednesday fired back at a
Tribune Business report that indicated that Norwegian Cruise Line was swapping
regular calls on Nassau and Freeport of the Norwegian Sky for an overnight stay
in Havana, Cuba, arguing the report did a disservice to the expansion being
observed in the nation’s cruise product. There are cruise ports being developed
in East Grand Bahama and on Ocean Cay. Wilchcombe expressed confidence that
this nation will remain in the “driver’s seat” as a top Caribbean cruise
While emphasizing the important role the press plays in
well-functioning democracies, FNM Leader Dr. Minnis offered a blizzard of
criticism of the national media during a speech at the Bahamas Press Club’s monthly
on Tuesday night.
Bradley Roberts has again shot out at Michael Pintard, the
FNM’s candidate for Marco City, calling the former senator “compromised”. In a
on Tuesday, the PLP chairman also criticized FNM Leader Dr.
Minnis for his “silence” on the controversy surrounding Mr. Pintard.
Residents in the Berry Islands can visit the
Administrator’s Office to obtain copies of birth, marriage and death
certificates without having to travel to Nassau after the Registrar General’s
Department launched online registration and certification at the Government
Complex, Bullock’s Harbour last week.
Removing the Employment Act’s ‘cap’ on redundancy pay
will “cripple and/or bankrupt most businesses” in The Bahamas, the Chamber of
Commerce has warned, resulting in mass lay-offs and company closures.
The National Tripartite Council may have breached its
own founding Act by failing to get “unanimous” agreement on the controversial
labor law reforms before submitting its recommendations to the Government,
Tribune Business was told yesterday.
AML Foods has invested $1 million in its newly-opened
Carl’s Jr. outlet on Carmichael Road, a venture that has created 36 jobs.
The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) admitted on
Wednesday that there has been a shortfall in the chemotherapy drug Gemcitabine
since last week. However, the PHA said the drug should be made available by the
end of this week.
Chief Justice Sir Hartley Longley will continue as the
country’s top judge for another two years, an announcement from the Cabinet
Office confirmed yesterday.
The Bahamas Weekly
that the Bahamas Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) and the
General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS), signed a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will provide scholarships and training
programs for Bahamian students.
With the Constituencies Commission report completed, Prime
on Thursday intensified his call for Bahamians to register to
vote, as they will be unable to do so once the election is called.
The PLP has pushed back its ratification planned for 9th
February to the 16th February to include a candidate for St.
Barnabas, the new constituency to be created by the Constituencies Commission,
according to PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts.
The Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute
(BAMSI) has recruited a Bahamian feed biotechnology specialist to become chief
operating officer at its Gladstone Road site.
About the author: Elcott Coleby is a Deputy Director at the
Bahamas Information Services. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in
Chemistry (B.Sc) and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). He provides
frequent commentary on public policy and communicates the works of the
government. Address all comments to the following email: