N N A A S S S S A A U U A A N N D D B B A A H H A A M M A A I I S S L L A A N N D D S S L L E E A A D D I I N N G G N N E E W W S S P P A A P P E E R R BTC sale violates convention rules C M Y K C M Y K V olume: 107 No.23FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010 PRICE 75 (Abaco and Grand Bahama $1.25 WEATHER FULLDAYOF SUNSHINE HIGH 82F LOW 68F B U S I N E S S SEEPAGE1B S P O R T S Customs to name and shame firms SEESECTIONE Arianna falls short in 100 free semifinals By NOELLE NICOLLS Tribune Staff Reporter email@example.com BAHAMIAN trade unions went international with their fight against the sale of BTC to Cable and Wireless, making good on threats to intensify theiro pposition. I n a formal complaint m ade to the International Labour Organisation (ILO union leaders claim the gov-e rnment is in violation of Section 144 of the ILO Convention. Employers and workers shall be represented on an equal footing on any bodies through which consultations are undertaken, states a section of the convention ont ripartite consultation between representatives of the government, employers and workers. B ernard Evans, president of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU the move after an all-day meeting with the National Unions take fight to international body McCOMBO OF THE DAY N E W The Tribune THEPEOPLESPAPER BIGGESTANDBEST L ATESTNEWSONWWW.TRIBUNE242.COM BAHAMASBIGGEST CARSFORSALE, HELPWANTED ANDREALESTATE I N S I D E By MEGAN REYNOLDS Tribune Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org A GRIEVING single mother forced out of her home when she was unable to pay the rent was moved to tears by the generosity of a Tribune reader who has pledged to help her and her daughter find a new home for Christmas. Baha Mar executive Richard English, from Winter Park, Florida, was so moved by The Tribunes article about Theresa Gibson and her daughter being forced out of their rented apartment, he offered to pay for them to move into a new home and cover her rent for the first three months. They shared a tearful embrace as they SEE page 10 Felip Major /Tribune staff EMOTIONALSCENE: Theresa Gibson with Baha Mar executive Richard English, from Winter Park, Florida. TRIBUNE READER PLEDGES T O HELP MO THER AND D AUGHTER FIND HOME FOR CHRISTMAS By MEGAN REYNOLDS Tribune Staff Reporter email@example.com AN INTEGRATED net work of CCTV cameras will start to monitor the streets of Nassau next year in the first wave of a new initiative to assist police in the fight against crime. Plans formulated by the National CCTV Steering Committee with guidance from American consultants Hudson Sterling LLC are expected to be implemented in six to nine months time as 85 cameras across New Providence are linked by a nation CCT V C AMERAS TO MONIT OR N ASS AU STREETS NEXT YEAR BTC union leaders are expected back in court today as their attorneys will seek to have an injunction restricting any unlawful industrial action against the company lifted. On Wednesday, union leaders led a demonstration on Bay Street in protest of the governments plan to sell 51 per cent of the state-owned company to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC Last week, BTC obtained a court injunction which restricted the unions involved the Bahamas Communications and Public Offi cers Union (BCPOUBCPMU from "inducing employees of BTC to break their respective con tracts of employment by taking part in any unlawful industrial action against BTC". Union leaders maintain they did nothing illegal. Bernard Evans, president of the BCPOU, and William Carroll, president of the BCPMU, are listed as defendants in the matter. BTC union leaders seek to ha ve injunction lifted THE turf war for land which is thought to be thef inal resting place of billions o f dollars worth of pirate trea sure stepped up a gear last night. A s government officials updated residents in San Salvador on the clear title to landi n Fortune Hill, another land o wner has come forward claiming ownership of the dis puted property. W ith a plethora of maps, survey plans, and aerial pho tographs in hand, Dennis Bethel sat down with The Tri bune yesterday and claimed the government was making a critical mistake and should stop forthwith before legal action is taken. They have a surveying SEE page 10 SEE page eight B y NOELLE NICOLLS T ribune Staff Reporter n firstname.lastname@example.org TWO weeks to scrutinise all the facts and documentation relating to the sale ofB TC to Cable and Wireless is a slap in the face, opponents claimed last night Two weeks notice is after the fact. For a document you have already signed, several w eeks ago, you are going to s et the date for its release two weeks prior to its debate in the House of Assembly, saidT erry Miller, president of Civil Society Bahamas, an umbrella body for civic organ i sations. In the absence of all the facts, what we can clearly say T WO WEEKS TO CHECK BTC SALE A SLAP IN FACE SEE page eight PIRATE TREASURE L AND TURF WAR IS STEPPED UP SEE page eight
C M Y K C M Y K LOCAL NEWS PAGE 2, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010 THE TRIBUNE TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM PRO-CAPITAL punishment activists will again take to thes treets on Saturday, urging the government to start hanging c onvicted murderers. T he relatives of murder victims will be supported by the Workers Party, the NDP, the Coconut Grove Business L eague, the Carmichael Road Business League and Super Valu e Food Stores. The march and motorcade will begin at 9am in t he parking lot of City Market o n the corner of Village and Wulff Roads. In a statement issued yesterday, the activists said: Them urder count to date is 93. This is a national scandal! The murder rate in the Bahamas has to be reduced and t here is only one way to achieve this objective by hanging the murderer. The group also want the government to support their call for all accused murderers to be denied bail. The Bahamian people are urged to join this march and m otorcade as the level of crime and murders is increasing almost on a daily basis and destabilsing our society, the statement said. PRO-HANGING ACTIVISTS TO TAKE TO THE STREETS AGAIN By Celeste Nixon Tribune Staff Reporter email@example.com SANTA Claus and St Andrews students demonstrated the true meaning of Christmas by donating gifts to underprivileged children in N ew Providence. S anta visited St Andrews Primary School yesterday morning, bringing all the best of the holiday season with him. Santa, Ms Claus and their helpers were given a merry welcome when they made their grand entrance riding the Builders Mall fire truck. Excited students from grades one through six brought gifts for Santa to give to less fortunate c hildren throughout the island, in an effort to e nsure that everyone has something to open on Christmas morning. The Reverse Santa programme encourages children to think about the happiness of o thers, and teaches about the importance of charity and selfless giving especially during this time of year. Each class visited the North Pole to present t heir gifts to Santa, sang carols, and were told about the true meaning of Christmas. "Christmas is a time for giving and its important to help those less fortunate in our country," s aid Santa. "It feels really good to give gifts to those who do not have anything," said a sixth grade student. St Andrews board chairman Robin Brownrigg, a Santa veteran of 37 years, sang Christmas carols with the students, col-l ected presents and gave out candy canes. Playing Santa has become a tradition for Mr Brownrigg, who has been dressing up for St Andrews students for the last 10 years, each y ear arriving by means of a different mode of transportation but always in style. Previous visits featured a red mustang conv ertible, red Volkswagen, red motorcycle and a helicopter. This year, children shouted and cheered ecstatically as Santa pulled up in a 40foot red fire truck driven by Mark Roberts, o wner of FYP Ltd and Builders Mall, and a survivor of a near fatal plane crash on Whale Cay on October 6. Santas helpers included Charlie Beall who is single-handedly supporting 800 orphans inH aiti and Andrew Bain, a national rugby team member. The gifts will be delivered to the Bilney Lane Children's Home, the Elizabeth Estates Home for Children, the Ranfurly Home a nd other shelters for children throughout New Providence. is the season to help less fortunate children Tim Clarke/Tribune staff ATIMEFORGIVING: Reverse Santa students from St. Andrews school give Santa gifts to distribute to less fortunate children. SANTAANDST. ANDREWSSTUDENTSSHOWTRUE MEANINGOFCHRISTMAS
EDITOR, The Tribune. Interesting. When I p layed Monopoly with my parents years ago, we all w anted to buy up the utility companies as they were solid as a rock. It seems that when count ries borrow from the IMF o ne of the bargaining chips is the insistence that we sell off some utilities. It makes me wonder who on the IMF has ties to Cable and Wireless and other take over c ompanies? If BTC needed a cash input the government only had to sell bonds. The bridge bonds sold out in a day or so, and there are p lenty of Bahamians who are looking for a sound investment to better their lives. We could have helped Bahamian individuals and o ur community by keeping o ur product Bahamian. W e should have done this for the hotels on Cable B each too, instead of selli ng them and our land, beach and thoroughfares for a paltry $80 million Bah! From observation, third world countries often sell offt heir utilities to their detriment. Loss of a utility can cripp le a country. It is a form of organised terrorism. Curr ently Greece is in total unrest and near financial r uin due to the mismanagement of public companies by the government, and yes, they borrowed from the IMF too. (I smell a bad fish When large foreign corporations buy up utilities theyd o so for one reason profit. They are not from here a nd have no commitment to us or our future. So whats next? Water? There are a list of societies both modern and ancient who have failed because of lack of water or restrictiono f it. Keep our utilities Bahamian. If we need money to improve or develop them, let Bahamians and Bahamian residents benefit from shareholding. S A Nassau, December 9, 2010. C M Y K C M Y K EDITORIAL/LETTERS TO THE EDITOR PAGE 4, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010 THE TRIBUNE The Tribune Limited NULLIUS ADDICTUS JURARE IN VERBA MAGISTRI Being Bound to Swear to The Dogmas of No Master L EON E. H. DUPUCH, Publisher/Editor 1903-1914 S IR ETIENNE DUPUCH, Kt., O.B.E., K.M., K.C.S.G., (Hon. P ublisher/Editor 1919-1972 Contributing Editor 1972-1991 EILEEN DUPUCH CARRON, C.M.G., M.S., B.A., LL.B. P ublisher/Editor 1972Published Daily Monday to Saturday S hirley Street, P.O. Box N-3207, Nassau, Bahamas Insurance Management Building., P.O. F-485, Freeport, Grand Bahama W EBSITE www.tribune242.com updated daily at 2pm TODAY MANY Bahamians are conf used. They would like to know when the unions purchased the publics telecommunications company, which would give them t he right to say whether the company can be sold and to whom. A s far as the public is aware those making the noise in the public square are employees of a publicly owned company with a contract of service that can be terminated by either side to that contract. In other words a u nions only argument should be about the employment of its members and the terms of that employment, certainly not about the ownership of the company. However, if unionists believe they have an entitlement over an above their contract of service then they should bring their papers and publicly prove their point. Otherwise, it is the government not the unions that was e lected to represent the Bahamian people. And it is the people, represented by their M Ps in parliament, who will have the final say on the sale of BTC. B ernard Evans, president of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union, who has taken the unions fight to the International Labour Organisation (ILO claimed the government was in violation of a n ILO convention which calls for the government to engage workers in a transparentm anner to discuss issues of life-changing effect. H ow can the union leader support this complaint when he was on the BTC privatisation committee where the matter was dis cussed and recommendations made to gov ernment, and when the Prime Minister him s elf met with union executives and invited them to meet for discussions with the pro p osed new owners chief executive officer? It is understood that at the meeting with theP rime Minister, although the union leaders expressed their displeasure at Cable and Wireless as the new owners, they at least agreed to meet with the companys CEO for a discussion. David Shaw, CEO of Cable and Wireless, flew in specially for that discussion. The union sent its regrets. They complain that no one will talk with t hem, that they do not know what is going on, that what is being done to them is wicked and intentional because government never truly wanted them to be a participant in that discussion. How can there bea discussion if one side to that discussion refuses come to the table? How can doubts and fears be discussed and removed if a reasonable discussion cannot take place? Bullying tactics will not succeed. The louder t hey shout in the public square, the more support they lose by a large segment of the p opulation, already dissatisfied with BTCs service. Mr Evans has accused the government of t rying to muddy the waters by comparing the PLPs terms of agreement to sell BTC to Bluewater with the terms offered t o Cable & Wireless. He claims it is a nonissue for the unions and hardly worthy of c omment. Unfortunately, it is not a non-issue and is most worthy of comment, because with the Christie government, it was the union that also agreed the Bluewater deal. Apparently, t he union had no problem with this untried and untested foreigner named Bluewater, nor did it protest the terms of that agreement. Whenever it is referred to by Mr Christie he is careful to make it clear that the union was on board, and until now the union has not protested. The main dispute is that the PLP offered Bluewater 49 per cent of the company, while t he FNM offered Cable and Wireless 51 per cent. Now lets examine the meaning of the t wo offers in practical terms. In the Bluewater agreement, manage m ent and control of BTC was to be given to Bluewater without it having paid for the majority interest. Bluewater was also given control of the board because it had a greater number of directors on it. It also had com p lete control of the day-to-day management because it had sole authority to select thec ompanys Chief Executive Officer (CEO In other words Bluewater with its 49 per c ent would have effectively secured majority control of BTC without having paid for it. On the other hand Cable and Wireless (CWC closing the net cash benefit to the govern m ent from the CWC deal will be at least $202 million, whereas the net value of theB luewater transaction on closing would have been $150 million, and not the $260 milliona s claimed by the politicians. Bluewater was granted an exclusivity peri od of six years for both mobile and fixed line services while CWCs exclusivity period for mobile service is three years, and the fixed line no longer applies as it has already been liberalised. And so when the facts are examined, not only is government financially better off selli ng to CWC, but CWC has had to pay for its control of the company, whereas the Bluewater deal agreed by the Christie government, and one can assume by the union because of its silence at the time received exactly the same control of the company for which it would have paid no extra and for which it would have been paying in instalments over a six-year period, instead of cash. The bottom line was that Bluewater with i ts 49 per cent got complete control of the company without paying any extra, while C WC with its 51 per cent also got complete control of the company, but at a price. Are we being forced to sell BTC? LETTERS firstname.lastname@example.org When did the unions purchase BTC? E DITOR, The Tribune. I would have stayed out of the argument, but a closef riend of mine took excep tion to something I wrote and told me that I was an F NM. He has known me for y ears and he knows that the stand that I take does not allow me to be PLP or FNM, but the fact that I did not have anything good to say about his party in someo f my recent letters was a problem for him. The next statement may sound strange, but philosophically the majority of Bahamians want what the PLP has envisioned for Bahamians over the past 60y ears, but there is a prob lem with the amount ofs pace they allow between what they say and what they do. For a couple of decades many Bahamians have been contented with the talk of visions and plans, but if you check the building schedules, it is the other Party that has been doing most of the work. I will agree with my friend that his Party has made a significant contribution to this nation, but both he and I have to face the reality that when we leave here and those who come after seek answers for what has been done with the legacies bequeathed to us in 1968 and 1973, there will be some wanting. The ideological circumstances are such in this country that the man who was kicked out of the PLP was a ble to become leader of the O pposition and use the vision that he embraced in that organisation and leadt he nation out of a very dark place in 1992. The current leader of the O pposition often reminds us of the numerous visions that h is organisation has/had for the Bahamas and the numerous plans that were left in place by his adminis tration. He also speaks as if that is e nough to give him a platform to garner the publics attention, but he is disre garding the intellectual capacity of the audience he is seeking to sway by such rhetoric. He makes no mention of w hat his administration actually did during his timei n office. The events that led up to the 2002 Election were tailor made for the Opposition; 9/11, financial crisis, straw market fire, an ill-timed referendum. A laundry list of events that would cause difficulties for any incumbent grouping. However, in the midst of all that turmoil the Christie administration had a mar velous opportunity the Straw Market. This was a grand opportunity to make up for a lot of missteps with a bedrock con stituency of die-hard supporters who had always been the backbone of the PLP. If I was the leader of the party at that time, if I did anything during my term in office, that market was going to be built, by hook or by c rook. As mentioned previously, it is not enough to talk of what you left in place or what you had planned to do,e specially if you want the electorate to speak well of your party, and when the track record does not supp ort what you are proclaiming, someone is going to be disappointed and it is not going to be the people who are listening, because they have heard the story before. The Straw-Market opportunity should not have been squandered was another term envisioned? I will admit that I took this failure personally, especially when the government minister tabled the plans for the Straw Market and we f ound out that it was not truly a Straw-Market; it was too much of something else. He then nailed the case closed when he remarked that the plans had been reviewed and there was not enough space for the strawvendors, and there was no reply from the other side no one said a word! I am wondering if the leader of the Opposition has a plan to inspect the progress of the straw markets construction? If he is planning to make that visit I want my friend to come for me on that day so that I can be there I would not miss that; especially if some of the strawvendors are included. EDWARD HUTCHESON Nassau, December 1, 2010. Christie and the marvellous opportunity of the Straw Market EDITOR, The Tribune. Last year we had the debacle of the stripping out of the Judeo Menorah Candles from Rawson Square and this year that universal Christian symbol of Christs coming (Christmas tree has likewise been stripped from the city centre and relegated to an obscure corner at the western perimeter of town. But the Junkanoo bleachers have centre stage in this once Christian community called Nassau. And for any of you other sapsuckers that feel a drive through town, to look at the lights and decorations, might uplift your spirits at this time of year well think again! As you enter Bay Street from Marlborough Street, you are immediately blinded by the GIGA watt Junkanoo lights that face the traffic and run constantly, day and night, and obliterate absolutely any lights and decorations that shopkeepers may have put up, and coincidentally, also the decorations that the same government agency, that seems incapable of putting a switch on the Junkanoo lights, also erected. One can only wonder who runs this country and moreso perhaps who runs them. Junkanoo? To paraphrase from that great song by Band Aid Nassau might easily be substituted for Africa in the lyrics methinks. And there wont be snow in Africa this Christmas time The greatest gift theyll get this year is life Where nothing ever grows No rain or rivers flow Do they know its Christmas time at all? Merry Christmas in spite of the powers that be. BRUCE G RAINE Nassau, December, 2010. JUNKANOOWON JESUSNONE
B y DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter d maycock@ tribunemedia.net FREEPORT The Humane Society of Grand Bahama is facing a financial crisis as a result of a $150,000 shortfall in itsa nnual revenue. This comes at an extremely difficult timew hen the facility is experie ncing an increased intake of unwanted animals at the shelter on Coral Road. The Humane Society s aid it has lost the financial support of a major sponsor, and executivesa nd volunteers are now trying to find ways to raise funds to keep the shelter functioning. T he money received by t he Humane Society pays for the rounding up of strays, the care of hundredso f dogs and cats, the neut ering and spay service and the euthanasia of animals that are not adopted. This year, the shelter took in 1,143 dogs and 237 cats by the end of October, an 11 per cent increase over the same period in 2 009. It is felt that with the tough economic times and m ore people abandoning t heir pets, the challenge for t he shelter is going to get greater. Society executives and v olunteers are desperately trying to find ways of drumming up more funding at a time when theirw ork is more important than ever, the Humane Society said. One idea is to invite p eople who are stumped for ideas for a holiday gift for close family to donate $50 in their name the costo f shipping a dog to the US or to keep it in the home on Coral Road for a month. A n announcement will be made shortly about the various initiatives that theH umane Society hopes will help. The shelters annual operating expenses run a bout $204,000, which includes $40,000 for pow er, about $80,000 for food, almost $50,000 for treatment of sick or infected animals, and around $ 34,000 for materials to keep the animal shelter clean. The society has a s taff of 20. The shelter in F reeport does not receive a ny financial support from the government as does thes helter in Nassau. E ven though there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of dogs adopted by Grand Bahami a ns as well as similar trend for cats, the shelter has had to put down 732 dogs and 130 cats this year. T o avoid euthanasia, some animals have been shipped to the US for adoption. So far this year,2 57 animals were flown out. One of the big chal lenges is the perception t hat the Society wastes money, said Ms Burrows. Many misconceptions e xist in the community about our expenses and what people see as perpetual pleas for funding. Some in the community evidently even think we shouldnt have built a new shelter if we didnt have the funds to run it. Weve all heard various people w ho criticise us for not putting more animals down. The long and short i s, the majority of the publ ic have no idea. M s Burrows said the shelter was built with mon-e y that was donated locally b y persons who saw the scale of the stray and abandoned animal problem on Grand Bahama. S he said the Societys previous premises were totally inadequate. The fact that the new f acility is already stretched to capacity shows the true extent of the need, she s aid. Corporate citizens, residents, and businesses are e ncouraged to support the H umane Society as it s truggles to raise funds to perform a vital public ser-v ice. C M Y K C M Y K LOCAL NEWS T HE TRIBUNE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010, PAGE 5 TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM MIAMI A BAHAMIAN man faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in Florida to two counts of migrant smuggling, according to Associated Press. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami says 31year-old Rick Davis pleaded guilty Friday. Sentencing is scheduled for February 18. Federal authorities identified Davis as the captain of a vessel spot ted off Deerfield Beach by Custom and Border Protection aircraft on November 3. Agents fired at the vessel's engines to disable it after it allegedly attempted to flee. Investigators said Davis was attempting to smuggle six Haitians and one Jamaican into the U.S. In his plea agreement, Davis said two of the Haitians paid him $12,000 and provided the boat and a GPS to pick up the passengers in Abaco, the Bahamas, and take them to Florida. A S THEcompletion of the new US Departures Terminal at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA to the use of energy efficient sys-t ems and resource conservation w hich will make the facility complia nt with international best practices of environmental and social management. The new terminal will employ deep water cooling, the use of deepw ater wells for geothermal cooling. The process involves taking cool water found 400 feet in the earth, passing the water through heat exchangers to capture the heat rejected from the chillers and discharging the heated water 300 feetb ack into the earth. Stewart Steeves, president and C EO of the Nassau Airport Develo pment Company (NAD When designing the airport we were very careful to take advantage of the natural resources with which the islands of the Bahamas are blessed. This system is used in lieu ofi nstalling cooling towers which would consume about 10 million gallons of potable make-up water annually. The cooler ground water helps the chiller to run more efficiently t han conventional cooling towers. T he building design provides large roof overhangs that provide shade thereby reducing heat-gain. The roof also collects rainwater for re-use in the low-flush automatic plumbingf ixtures (water closets and urinals he said. The building design includes a mix o f 50 per cent glass and 50 per cent s olid walls to maximise light but to minimise heat intrusion. The building will be cooled by low velocity a ir diffusers, cooling only the space that is of human height, for maximum energy-efficiency. Materialsf or interior finishes are selected for their low volatile organic compound ( VOC) emissions. N ADs vice-president of operations John Terpstra said he is particularly focused on systems that will improve the airports operations while saving money. One major cost to airports, which are 24/7 facilities, is that of energy electricity. All the washroom and o ffice lighting is controlled by occup ancy sensors that will shut off lighting in the space automatically when not in use. T he automatic building manage ment system centrally controls the cooling and lighting systems byr educing variances in temperatures. In addition, the management system m onitors for CO2 and VOC levels to c ontrol outside air volumes, setback temperature controls during unoccupied hours of operation, high efficiency chillers, direct digital controls, and multiple variable air volumeb oxes for individual zone temperature control. The development of gardens, prov iding green space for airport users t o enjoy the outdoors, will also add to the greening of the facility, airport officials said. T wo gardens will be located at either end of the completed terminals and two gardens will be insertedb etween the three terminals. Pumped ground water will be used f or irrigation in all the landscaped a reas. NAD officials said that when completed, the entire airport will be unique in the region for its atten tion to cost-saving and energy-effic ient systems, its comfort and safety for users, and its minimisation of impact on the environment. There is a lot being said about t he need for airlines to reduce carbon footprint. At LPIA, we are actually doing something to minimise o ur impact, and at the same time add to the overall passenger experience the best of all worlds, saidN AD CEO Mr Steeves. BAHAMIAN MAN PLEADS GUIL TY TO MIGRANT SMUGGLING $150,000 revenue shortfall at GBHumane Society Airport planned to be one of the greenest Caribbean developments ONEOFTHEGREENEST: W ork has been taking place at Lynden Pindling International Airport.
AFTER serving 10 years as executive director of Junior Achievement (JA and over 26 years of service in the organisation at every level, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture and Junior Achievement recognised Lionel Elliott, Sr, at a special luncheon at the British Colonial Hilton. Among the accolades expressed for Mr Elliott was a self-written message from Governor-General Sir Arthur Foulkes, who praised him for devoting his knowledge and talents to managing and training young people. Mr Elliott returns to the Ministry of Tourism after a 10-year secondment. Throughout his JA involvement, Mr Elliott inspired others to unlock their potential and enriched not only the Bahamian community, but also that of Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands, Sir Arthur said in a message read at the ceremony and presented in a frameto Mr Elliott. Sir Arthur added that as the only Bahamian to serve at every level in JA, Mr Elliott has committed his resources to executing the organisations vision to impact students throughout the islands of the Bahamas. He is a legend in a field that is fundamental to the economic and social development of our youth, Sir Arthur said. I commend Mr Elliott for his stellar performance and trust that he will continue inspiring generations of young people and lending his vision and acumen to molding the lives of this nations youth. Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard repeated Sir Arthurs sentiments in his statement that spoke of the outstanding contributions of an honourable public officer. Mr Lionel Roosevelt SearsElliott, Sr, was seconded to my ministry in 2000 with the distinguished responsibility to cater to the executive directorate of Junior Achievement, Minister Maynard said. Since then, he has been a k ey component to the youth development agenda of my ministry and has always been respected as a key consultant to the development of new and innovative programme and projects. Minister Maynard added that Mr Elliott leaves his ministry honourably with his head held high, as he did when he entered our doors. It is obvious that these tokens (given at the recognition ceremony) cannot compare to the contributions he has made and, additionally, the joys exper ienced while working for and with the gems of our nation, Minister Maynard said. Sir, on behalf of my min istry, the Government of the Bahamas and the people of the C ommonwealth of the Bahamas, I thank you and wish you every blessing and success in your new responsibilities. During his tenure at JA Bahamas, Mr Elliott spearheaded the development of new Family Island programmes, new international academic scholar-s hips partnerships, improved programme delivery, new corporate sponsorships, increased nationwide student participation and improved international relationships with JA Worldwide, the ministry said. Mr Elliott also worked in r aising substantial funding for national operations, paid off long-outstanding debts and helped to develop world-class national conferences with international guest speakers. C M Y K C M Y K LOCAL NEWS T HE TRIBUNE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010, PAGE 7 TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM WITH mammograms recognised as one of the most import ant tools in the fight against breast cancer, Doctors Hospital is c ontinuing its promotion of the Free Mammograms for Life campaign it instituted five years ago. The Mammograms for Life competition encourages women t o have their yearly mammograms. Those having a mammogram for the first time received 50 per cent off of the cost of a mammogram through December 1,2 010. Hundreds of women completed the entry forms, and two participants, Shena Ferguson and Dorothy Robinson, won free mammograms for life. T he recommended age for women to begin their mammo gram screenings is 40. Doctors are now suggesting that women get tested earlier, as breast cancer is growing rapidly in younger women, especially in the Bahamas. A 20-year-old who discovers cancer cells can expect her cancer to double or triple within a six month period, while thes ame cancer in a 40-year-old takes a year to a year and a half to reach the similar size. Doctors encourage women with a history of breast cancer in t heir families to begin screening earlier than age 40. Breast MRI scans are used in addition to mammography. Doctors Hospital is encouraging all those who have not been screened yet and have a family history for breast cancer to schedule a screening as soon as possible. Accolades abound as youth leader completes tour of duty OUTGOING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of Junior Achievement Bahamas Lionel Elliott, Sr, poses with his wife and children on December 14 at a recognition luncheon at the British Colonial Hilton. DOCTORS HOSPITAL ANNOUNCES FREE MAMMOGRAMS FOR LIFE CONTEST WINNERS (L-R imaging technician; Dr Dinesh Yadav, radiologist; contest winner Dorothy Robinson; Charles Sealy, Doctors H ospital CEO; contest winner Shena Ferguson; Cynthia Sawyers, vice-president of clinical services; Michele Rassin, vice-president of operations, Doctors Hospital. A PACKED ROOM o f well-wishers attend the recognition luncheon at the British Colonial Hilton for outgoing executive director of Junior Achievement Bahamas Lionel Elliott on December 14.
C M Y K C M Y K LOCAL NEWS PAGE 8, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010 THE TRIBUNE TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM C ongress of Trade Unions (NCTU Union Congress (TUC He said the convention called for the government to engage workers in a transp arent manner to discuss i ssues of life-changing e ffect. The employees are the main asset of BTC, not the technology, and they are not talking to us. It was wicked and intentional because they never truly wanted us to be a p articipant in that discuss ion, said Mr Evans, accusi ng the government and the privatisation committees of acting in a calculated man-ner. H ad the unions been genuinely engaged from the start, Mr Evans said, maybe a ll of this would not have b een an issue. A t least ten unions, includi ng the umbrella organisat ions, have publicly thrown their voice behind the opposition movement that seeks t o have the government reverse its decision on the sale of a 51 per cent stake in B TC to Cable and Wireless. A letter is now on its way to the ILO director general, Juan Somavia, requesting the ILO investigate the Bahamian government for a possible violation. For the first time ever in a very long time, this Parliam ent has galvanised the NCTU and the TUC. They came together this morning, and for the first time I could hear the passion. There are so many things we have p lanned and with this unif ied effort, said Mr Evans. In planning the next move, the unions say they haven ot taken anything off the t able, including a general s trike. They are even disc ussing bringing in Caribbean and international affiliates, said Mr Evans. Industrial action is expected leading straight up to January 19, when the House is scheduled to reconv ene. M r Evans criticised the government for muddying t he water with a discussion o f Bluewater, claiming that is a non-issue for the unions and hardly worth of comment. It only could be that they are trying to swing the pendulum away from what our main issue is. We are not i nterested in a comparison b etween who (between the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement) had a better deal. Both deals were terrible in my view. I dont even know w hy they brought up Bluew ater, said Mr Evans. The government released a statement late Wednesday n ight claiming to bring an e nd to the deceit over the c urrent deal with C&W. The s tatement contained a detailed comparison between the former governments deal with Bluewater and the current C&W proposal. The issue of Bluewater is i rrelevant, according to u nion bosses, who have hedged their complaint on t he issue of Bahamianisation. T he issue of Bluewater may have arisen from complaints by opposition memb ers of Parliament. However, Mr Evans said he was not fooled by the support ofo pposition members, because the politicians a lways jump on the union bandwagon, as though we a re political prostitutes. We know that if the shoe was on the other foot, the F NM would be out here, said Mr Evans, speaking about the presence of PLPo fficials at the scene of the union protest on Wednesd ay. i s that memorandums of understanding made on behalf of the people of The Bahamas should not only be made pub-l ic after the signing, but must be gazetted p rior to their signing so that the shareholders of Bahamas incorporated would have the opportunity to view and make r easonable input, and again to avoid what we have seen happen in the Baha Mar deal, said Mr Miller. T he organisation presented its second annual State of Civil Society address at Windsor Park. Mr Miller said the former Progressive Liberal Party govern m ent also erred in withholding details of the Baha Mar MOU. I have followed, to the best of my a bility the arguments for and against, and while there are still a number of grey areas, the Civil Society issue that standso ut to me is the fact that a Memorand um of Understanding was signed and only the signators know the contents of this critical document, said Mr Miller. We have seen this done by the former government and the results have beent hat the present government had to make significant changes to the Baha Mar debacle. We cannot afford to allow this to happen again, he said. Bernard Evans, president of the Bahamas Communications and Public O fficers Union (BCPOU t he Bahamian people should take that to be a slap in the face. You own BTC. Did you give them authorisation to selly our shares and to withhold the inform ation. Two weeks to digest the information is too short, said Mr Evans. I n light of the impending parliamentary debate, Mr Miller said he hoped the discussion would not simply be cere m onial. He admitted that recent history would suggest that parliamentary debates have become ceremonial, because governments typically bring a bill to parlia ment with a mind already made up to pass it. He said there are examples from the 1960s of the opposition and pressuref rom the people having a meaningful impact in a parliamentary debate. I think what I am seeing with the situation here is that a sentiment is brewing. There is a groundswell of opposition separate from the official opposition. I t hink a sensible government and one that r espects the principles of democracy would have to take stock and rethink certain aspects of an agreement like this,s aid Mr Miller. T he current MOU, although signed, is still in a proposed state, said Mr Miller. He said a government that iss ensitive would be prepared to make changes if necessary. It is unclear how the privatisation issue w ill turn out in the end, said Mr Miller, but he believes there would not be so much discontent and discord if government acted with more transparency. p roblem here. The governm ent has not done its due diligence in this matter, and they are determining who the true owner of this property is based on surveys that were incorrectly prepared, Mr Bethel claimed. S uperimposing his propertys boundaries on an aerial photograph of the disputed land in Fortune Hill, Mr Bethel said it was clear his familys land, the Newt on tract of some 47 acres, e ncompasses the area under which the pirate treasure is believed to be buried. The property directly behind it, which he said belongs to Dorothy Black-D eal, was erroneously m apped over a portion of his land to encompass the c ave in which the treasures are believed to be buried. W ith this in mind, Mr B ethel called on the government to review its surv ey plans and properly ascertain the correct loca-t ion of the Newton land and a ll other properties in Fort une Hill before any rights a re issued at this time. In addition, he also asked f or the Department of L ands and Surveys to r emove all survey markers t hat were wrongfully set and communicate their findings of a corrected survey either to him or his attorn ey. Z hivargo Laing, Minister of State for Finance, i nformed T he Tribune y esterday ahead of his flight to San Salvador that the government had ascertained legal title through its attorneys and that any concerns of Mr Bethel would have to be carried out in the courts. M r Bethel said he intends to call a press conference today to address the matter f urther, pending the results of last nights meeting between Mr Laing and the residents of San Salvador. PIRATE TREASURE LAND TURF WAR IS STEPPED UP FROM page one BTC sale violates convention rules TWO WEEKS TO CHECK BTC SALE A SLAP IN FACE FROM page one F ROM page one B ERNARD EVANS president of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union
C M Y K C M Y K LOCAL NEWS T HE TRIBUNE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010, PAGE 11 TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM
By ALISON LOWE Business Reporter email@example.com Harcourt Developments, the Irish-based property development company that bought the Royal Oasis hotel in Freeport in 2007, may be in talks to sellt he property, the Minister of Tourism and Aviation said y esterday. Having announced in late 2008 that the economic climate meant it would have to postpone its redevelopment plans for the damaged hotel and former major Grand Bahama employer, Vincent Vanderpool Wallace told Tribune Business yesterday that Harcourt continues to maintain it is not in a position to move ahead with the resort. The last time (the Government them was probably about two or three months ago. They said that they really weren't in position to move forward on anything, said Mr Vanderpool Wallace. He noted the par ticularly dire economic climate in Ireland, which was recent ly forced to ask the International Monetary Fund (IM Fa multi-billion dollar bailout to weather a massive banking crisis. By NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor The $15 million worth of Commercial Village construction contracts issued last week by Baha Mar will have a significantly higher trickle down impact on the Bahamian economy than anticipated, particularly for local building materials suppliers, because they do not stipulate the use of Chinesesourced materials. Confirm ing that the four con tracts hand ed out for the initial stage of the $2.6 billion projects construction were standard build and install packages, not cov ered by Hotels Encourage ment Act tax incentives, Stephen Wrinkle, the Bahamian Contractors Associations (BCA dent, explained that this freed up the contractors to source material from whomever including Bahamian suppliers. It will have a significant ly higher trickle down impact, Mr Wrinkle said of the consequences. It appears that there may be more avenues for local par ticipation than anticipated. The bits and pieces and smaller items that contrac B y NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor The Bahamas General Insurance Associations (BGIA chairman yesterday said talks over much-needed reforms tot he Domestic Insurance Acts regulations were moving in the r ight direction after the regu lator accommodated the i ndustry on several key issues, as he expressed hope that both sides would know where we stand on all matters by endJanuary 2011. Timothy Ingraham, who is also president of Summit Insur ance, speaking after the Insurance Commission of the Bahamas published proposed amendments to the Acts regulations, said the two sides had been able to resolve several issues to both of our satisfactions. The bulk of the amendments related to admissible assets that Bahamian general insurance carriers must use to calculate solvency margins, and the risk ratings the amount by which they must be dis counted attached to various assets. Both areas had previously been identified by the BGIA as particular concerns to its members. They were able to accommodate us on some of the issues, Mr Ingraham said of the Commission, and on oth ers discussions are still ongoing. Some of the key issues we were able to resolve to both of our satisfactions. Were moving in the right direction. Emphasising that the BGIA and the Insurance Commission were aiming to strike the right balance between correct regu lation and consumer protection on one side, and having a workable supervisory system for the industry on the other, Mr Ingraham said the two sides had already scheduled meetings for the New Year to go over the outstanding issues. Theyve [the Insurance Commission] been willing to work with us, and theyve listened to any issues weve brought forward, Mr Ingraham told Tribune Business. Weve had very positive discussions with them. Theres just one or two issues from the Insurance Associations per s pective that we need to talk about. The vast majority oft hem have been resolved one way or the other. Asked how much longer the discussions between regulator C M Y K C M Y K SECTIONB firstname.lastname@example.org FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010 THETRIBUNE $4. 68 $4. 51 $4. 69The information contained is from a third party and The Tribune can not be held responsible for errors and/or omission from the daily report.$ $4.30 $4.45 $4.34 INSURAN CE REF ORMS GOING THE RIGHT W A Y Regulator accommodates sector on key assets to be used in solvency calculations and associated discounts* BGIA chair hoping to know where we stand on all remaining issues by end-January 2011 SEE page 5B VINCENT V ANDERPOOL-WALLACE STEPHEN WRINKLE Higher impact than anticipated fr om first Baha Mar contracts $15m Commercial V illage contracts do not stipulate Chinese material usage, opening avenues for Bahamian building suppliers Pre-qualifying process with Baha Mar first priority for BCA, aiming to ease small firm concerns SEE page 4B By ALISON LOWE Business Reporter email@example.com A new Customs Management Act will allow Bahamian companies found guilty of smuggling and tax evasion to be publicly named and shamed, and charged increased fines, the Comptroller of Customs warned yesterday. Meanwhile, a code of conduct specifically tailored to Customs officers will be introduced in the Act, along with a commission to hear complaints, in an effort to more effectively enforce discipline within the revenue collection agency. The revised Customs Management Act is expected to go before Parliament in 2011. It is presently in draft form, under review by the Govern ment. In an interview with Tri bune Business yesterday, Mr Gomez described smuggling as continuing to be of grave concern for the Department of Customs. While individuals may attempt to avoid paying tax on items they bring with them in their suitcases from trips a broad, Mr Gomez said it was Bahamian businesses that are engaging in smuggling on a large scale basis, either through attempts to evadeCustoms entirely or by the undervaluing of goods and tampering with documents, s uch as invoices, in an effort to pay less tax than they should. The Customs Department is presently continuing investigations into the discovery of hundreds of undeclared items, including cases of beer, ice cream and backwood tobacco, in a vessel at Potters Cay Dock earlier this month during a 4am raid. Every week we find commercial operations that are doing these things, said Mr Gomez. Asked whether it could be said that smuggling is on the increase, the Customs chief said: Smuggling has been going on for a number of years and it is still going on. Perhaps as you address it you start to find out its quite widespread. Once you start digging, you find that it's much more widespread than you may have thought initially. Mr Gomez said that 98 per cent of smuggling cases are dealt with by the Customs Department in house, as is Customs to name and shame firms New Act to allow for public naming of guilty smugglers and tax evaders and increase the fines they face GLENN GOMEZ SEE page 5B Harcourt eyeing sale of Royal Oasis? SEE page 4B By ALISON LOWE Business Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org The value of Stamp Tax and import duties collected by the Department of Customs since the beginning of the 2010-2011 fiscal year in July to November is ahead of the same period last year by $8 million, Customs Comptroller Glen Gomez said yesterday. This comes even as the Central Bank revealed that, overall, tax revenues for the Government during the first quarter of the 2010-2011 budget year dropped by 1.4 per cent to $241.3 million, in comparison to 2009-2010 figures. Mr Gomez attributed the increase in collections by his CUSTOMS REVENUES UP $8M OVER 2009 SEE page 5B By NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor The Bahamas International Securities Exchanges (BISX chief executive yesterday said the stock exchange was looking forward to a better 2011, with the $60 million Heineken/Burns House initial public offering (IPO p otential sale of Bahamas T elecommunications Compa ny (BTC ernment on the horizon, along with three other potential listings. Keith Davies told Tribune Business: By the looks of things, we have a better year than this year operationally in terms of market activity, new listings. The big one is the Heineken deal, but the Government is talking about BTC also. Those have been publicised. Then there are about three others you dont know about. Next year might have some benefits for us. Declining to specify who BISX chief awaiting five possible new listings SEE page 3B
By NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor The Government may not achieve its 3 per cent of GDP fiscal deficit target for the 20102 011 Budget year, a United Nations-related body has warned, with the Bahamian economys projected 2.3 per c ent growth next year in jeopardy from an uncertain US outlook. The UNs Economic Commission for Latin America and t he Caribbean (ECLAC report on the Bahamian economy released earlier this week, said the $112 million deficit that the Government racked up in the 2010-2011 first quarter showed that the tax increases unveiled in the May Budget have not yet started to have a n impact. Adding that the Governments continued capital spending on infrastructure projects might blow its 2010-2011 fiscald eficit target, ECLAC said only modest consolidation to date had been achieved when it came to setting both the deficit a nd National Debt back on a sustainable path. And, reflecting the uncertain outlook for the global economy, in particular the US, whichi s the key driver for the Bahamas, ECLAC said: The [Bahamian] economy is expected to grow by 2.3 per cent in 2 011, but this prediction may be undermined by lower growth in the US. While the Bahamas was slowly edging out of the 2008-2 009 recession, with modest economic growth of 0.5 per cent projected for 2010, data publ ished by ECLAC revealed that per capita income in this nation h ad taken an even more severe beating than the overall econo m y. While the Bahamian economy overall contracted by 1.7p er cent in 2008, per capita income in this nation (the avera ge income a Bahamian earned) fell by 2.8 per cent. The pace of this decline increased in 2009, with Bahamian per capita income dropping by 5.4 p er cent year-over-year, compared to a 4.3 per cent economic contraction, and for 2010 despite minimal growth projections per capita income is set to fall by another 0.7 per cent. Noting that the Governments fiscal policy measures had sought to balance the need t o maintain employment levels and counter weakened private sector investment with consolidating the national debt, ECLAC suggested that the 11p er cent expansion in the 20102011 first quarter fiscal deficit showed that only modest progress had been made. R eferring to the three months to end-September 2010, ECLAC said: Total revenue plus grants declined by 1 per cent, as the revenue-generatingm easures outlined in the latest budget have not yet started to have an impact. Following a 6 per cent rise i n current spending, linked to higher outlays on goods and services and interest payments, total expenditure expanded by 4 per cent, leading to sharp g rowth in the debt. And, more pertinently, ECLAC warned: A fiscal d eficit of 3 per cent of GDP is projected for 2010-2011, but t his target may not be achieved owing to continued outlays on i nfrastructure projects. Stimulus measures adopted by the Gov-e rnment to counter weak pri vate demand have pushed up c entral government debt from 44 per cent of GDP in September 2009 to 47.4 per cent of GDP in September 2010. Elsewhere, ECLAC attribu ted the 13.6 per cent increase in foreign direct investment inflows to the Bahamas largely to the $120 million Heineken purchase of the Associated Bahamian Distillers and Brewers (ABDAB House/Commonwealth Brewery. It noted that the Bahamas b alance of payments current account deficit narrowed from 8.5 per cent of GDP in January-June 2009 to 7.7 per cent during the same period thisy ear, aided by a 2.9 per cent reduction in imports as private sector demand continued to scale back. Exports of goods a nd services rose slightly, while travel receipts increased by 5.6 per cent. For the year to September 2010, ECLAC said theB ahamas inflation rate fell from 3.6 per cent in 2009 to 1 per cent this time around, despite increases in the B ahamas Electricity Corporations (BEC Price reductions were experienced in food and beverages, in stark contrast to the sub-s tantial increases in the rest of the region, ECLAC said. Costs for housing, and transp ort and communications, were also down. However, in spite o f lower oil prices, fuel and electricity costs escalated. A nd while the Bahamian international financial servicesi ndustry was stable, ECLAC said its cost base would start to i ncrease due to the need to comply with the tax information exchange demands of foreign countries. C M Y K C M Y K BUSINESS PAGE 2B, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010 THE TRIBUNE TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM UN body warns on fiscal deficit target ECLAC says Bahamas 2010-2011 deficit may exceed 3% due to infrastructure spending and fact tax increases not yet had an impact Warns that 2011 growth projections for Bahamian economy may be undermined b y US performance
those potential listings were, Mr Davies said that with the recession having somewhat levelled off, Bahamas-based companies were once again eyeing future strategies andhow to position themselves going forward, rebuilding and attracting financing to move to the next level. Adding that RoyalFidelity Merchant Bank & Trusts TIGRS 4 international mutual fund, which recently closed its offering to Bahamian and Barbadian investors, was set to soon join BISXs fund listings tier, Mr Davies hinted that he also hoped ongoing talks about the Government listing all its debt securities on the exchange would come to a successful conclusion in 2011. He also noted the irony of the fact that two key bedrocks on which BISX had based its business plan when it launched in 2000, the listing and trading of government debt securities plus BTCs privatisation, were now firmly in play more than a decade later. Mr Davies told Tribune Business: I foresee all these things happening throughout next year. I am positive about 2011, and think we will be able to demonstrate, based on our achievements throughout next year, our ability to grow this marketplace, because it will continue to grow. The market will grow despite us. It will grow organically. C M Y K C M Y K BUSINESS THE TRIBUNE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010, PAGE 3B TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM KEITH DAVIES B y ALISON LOWE Business Reporter email@example.com The Department of Cust oms will move forward right after the holidays to collect the tax and importd uties it says a significant number of Bahamian commercial airlines and private aircraft owners are owing. We will be moving then to contact them to let them know weve given themt ime, and we now need to settle these matters. So wew ill be calling and advising them of the amount of duty we expect them to pay, andw e expect them to comply or we will follow through with the law, said Mr Gomez, reiterating that theD epartment is able to seize aircraft from companies or i ndividuals who do not pay their debts. W hile admitting that SkyB ahamas chief executive Captain Randy Butler was correct when he said that u nder the Tariff Act aircraft w ere duty free prior to 2008, in the sense that the 1 0 per cent import duty did not apply, Mr Gomez said Stamp Tax still did. Even though they may say there wasn't any Cust oms duty there was still a tax that we collect. So don't be so concerned about 2008: There was a tax even though it was a different tax, said Mr Gomez. The Stamp Tax a pplied to aircraft is 7.5 per cent. The Department of Customs sent letters to Bahami an aviation operators and, M r Gomez said, to private aircraft owners last month, informing them they had two weeks to contact the d epartment about allegedly outstanding tax owed to the D epartment on aircraft brought in to the Bahamas. Many operators objected, saying that although there was a tax of which they were mostly aware, it was generally known that the Department was not minded to collect it for many years and t herefore it would be unfair to now retroactively collect i t. Some said it would put them out of business if they were made to hand over the funds, which added up to $ 700,000 in at least one case, a nd several hundred thousand dollars in others. Duty M eanwhile, Captain Butler said he subsequently discovered that the 10 per cent import duty was not imposed until 2008, and t herefore questioned on what basis operators were to be taxed. H e and other Bahamian operators also expressed concern that they alone, rather than private aircraft owners or illegal charter operators, were being tar geted. C aptain Butler added that in his airlines case, some of his aircraft were leased from another company, and therefore it should not be his obligation but the own ers to pay the funds. The Bahamas Aviation A ssociation and individual operators wrote to the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister, to ask that they be considered for an exemption f rom the tax citing concessions granted to other public transportation sectorss uch as taxi drivers. Mr Gomez said: All commercial and non-commercial planes on which duty was not paid will be liable. We also have a number of planes we've noticeda t the airport that do what they call illegal chartering,a nd those people are going to be asked to pay as well. Those who have gotten t he letters don't know about what other persons got the letters. We don't want them to feel theyre being pickedo n. All who have planes in the Bahamas, who are resid ent here, will be asked to pay. M r Gomez said his D epartment had allowed additional time before taking the next step to collect t he money, having been i nformed that the aviation operators wrote to the P rime Minister to request an exemption. They asked if we would give them a little time for the letter to be received andb e communicated to. We have allowed them a couple of weeks, but we think it's time to move forward, said Mr Gomez. He said the Department w ill be amenable to entering into payment plans with those who owe money to reduce the financial burden in the short term. Customs moving forward on aircraft tax collections BISX chief awaiting five possible new listings FROM page 1B
tors need on a daily basis, I would not be surprised to see them come from locals uppliers. Adding that the BCA was hopeful that significant quantities of construction material could be sourcedf rom Bahamian suppliers for the Baha Mar project, Mr Wrinkle said the BCA hadb een told by the developers management team that not a ll the material is going to be procured from China. Elsewhere, Mr Wrinkle a cknowledged that there was unease among small and m edium-sized contractors that they had been excluded from bidding on the Com-m ercial Village contracts, but said the BCAs first prio rity once formal government approval for the Baha Mar project had been givenwas to develop a pre-qualification process that would maximise the involvement of smaller Bahamian companies in the $400 millionw orth of work allocated to them. Hinting that the Comm ercial Village contracts concern may be misplaced, M r Wrinkle told Tribune Business: I know theres some concern in the smalla nd medium contractor community with regard to e xclusion from this bidding process, but what they have to remember is that this ten d ering process started months ago. Those tenders went out in March/April, long before an agreement was made fora $400 million package for B ahamian contractors. Thats only four buildings and 15-16 companies bid-d ing for that. I would encourage contractors not to get too upseta bout not being included in this bidding round, as it was e stablished way back. Four contractors had bid on each project, the BCAp resident added, and they had to submit three to four d ifferent bids due to the pro tracted nature of the process. He added thatw hen the $400 million worth of contracts for Bahamians w as split up, it would be distributed to a far wider pool of contractors, if noti n the three figures then cer tainly several dozen. Process Pledging that the BCA w ould be working hard with Baha Mar on a preq ualification process that accommodated small and medium-sized Bahamianc ontractors as soon as final go-ahead was received, Mr W rinkle said: That is the first priority for the BCA, resolving a pre-qualificationp rocess with Baha Mar that maximises the number of small and medium-sized contractors who can meet the criteria to bid the work.B aha Mar has to give some ground on this, and the contractors have to move up. Explaining that the situa tion was a two-way street, w here Baha Mar was accommodating and Bahamian contractors raised their game, Mr Wrinkle said: Its a mutual endeavour. It cant be one side either way. I n the meantime, the B CA would focus on providing the training that contractors needed to partici-p ate in the Baha Mar project, Mr Wrinkle stating that they did not find the workd ifficult as opposed to sorting out the contract and a dministrative aspects. Pointing out that some would have to adjust their work ethics when it came to arriving on time and get t ing the work done in rela tion to Baha Mar, the BCA president added: Its a dif f erent kettle of fish to build ing a home in Pinewood G ardens. If we dont per form, were not going to stay. We have a substantial responsibility where we have to deliver the product, and its no easy task at all. Theres a lot to done toe nsure we execute the work as its supposed to be done. Getting the Baha Mar p roject started would start the ball rolling for the B ahamian construction industry both physically and psychologically, Mr Wrinkles aid, sparking renewed sector activity and encouraging s maller projects to also start moving forward. Meanwhile, Mr Vanderpool Wallace said he had heard informally that Harcourt Developments may be looking to sell or partner with another company to redevelop the Royal Oasis. I heard there was some i nterest from another company in coming in and buyingout Harcourt, or working along with them to get something going. Our staff in Grand Bahama had got wind of someone coming to Grand Bahama to look at the property, but weve received nothing in writing, said the Minister. A property management, development and investment company, Harcourt Developments acquired the Royal Oasis in 2007. Its sale came three years after the resort was closed, having been damaged by Hurricanes Jeanne and Francis. The company announced a $400 million redevelopment plan to turn the defunct hotel, located on 425 acres of property, into a high quality tourism destination. However, at the end of 2008, as the global financial crisis bore down, tightning flows of credit, Harcourt Developments told the Government it would not be able to proceed with its plans to bring the hotel back on stream for the time being. Drawings Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham stated that the company sent my office a number of drawings and renderings as to what they are proposing to do when they are in a position financially to do so. Three years on, the company has continued to develop a number of properties in its portfolio around the world, but appears no closer to being able to fulfill the commitment it made regarding the Royal Oasis in 2007, shortly before the general election. Peter Turnquest, president of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, said the continued inoperational status of the hotel six years after it closed is a very unfortunate circumstance for Grand Bahama. Its a very significant loss for us. Even more so than the jobs lost, it was a symbol of the overall economy of Grand Bahama, it being one of the major draws on the island historically, so it does stand out as a sore thumb, Mt Tunrquest said. It is unfortunate, too, that the developer has decided to go on with other plans rather than redeveloping the hotel, which could have provided cash flow for other projects. Im sure they had their reasons, but it means were stuck with an asset that is deteriorating by the day. It is a significant effect on the economy. It employed 3,000 people at the peak of its operations, and we have not been able to recover from that effect. Our overall tourism product suffers as a result, said Mr Turnquest. When Tribune Business spoke with Donald Archer, operations manager for Harcourt Developments head office in Grand Bahama lastw eek regarding plans for the h otel, Mr Archer directed this newspaper to speak with the companys head office in Dublin, Ireland. Two e-mails seeking comment this week from Harcourt Developments chief marketing man-a ger, John Doherty, regarding the Royal Oasis were not returned this week and attempts to reach him via phone were not successful. 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F ROM page 1B F ROM page 1B Higher impact than anticipated from first Baha Mar contracts INSIGHT For the stories behind the news, read Insight on Mondays
C M Y K C M Y K BUSINESS THE TRIBUNE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010, PAGE 5B TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM and industry were set to take, Mr Ingraham said: I suspect that by the end of January we will be in a position where we pretty much know where we are on all issues going forward. Emphasising that both were keen to resolve the situation well before the remaining Insurance Act regulations took effect in September next year, the BGIA chair told Tribune Business: Both sides are keen to get a definitive position, so that concerned companies can work towards t hat definitive position come September 2011. The sooner we get that sorted out, the better f or all concerned, Mr Ingraham added. U nder the proposed reforms, debt securities, p reference shares and mutual fund shares listed on a recognised stock exchange are included among admissible assets, as are unlisted pref-e rence shares or other debt instruments or i nvestments approved by the Commission. In addition, cash held outside the Bahamas by Bahamian general insurers will be permitted as a qualifying asset provided it is used to support policyholder liabilities in that nation. The Insurance Commission also gave itself freedom to approve other qualifying asset categories, while non-listed mutual funds would quali fy on a pro rata basis determined on their underlying assets. Discounts W hen it came to asset discounts, the Insura nce Commission reduced the one on private company ordinary shares up to a maximum of 5 p er cent of admissible assets, exclusive of investm ents in private companies from the initial 100 per cent to 25 per cent. Rather than impose a 75 per cent across-theboard discount on all debit balances due from agents, brokers and sub-agents, the Insurance Commission has adopted for a more nuanced approach. Balances between 0-30 days outstanding will incur a 20 per cent discount for purposes of sol vency margin calculation; those 31-90 days outs tanding a 50 per cent discount; and those more t han 90 days outstanding a 100 per cent discount. The same approach is also being taken with r egard to outstanding premiums more than one m odal past due. T hose premiums 0-30 days past due will not be d iscounted, but those 31-60 days and over 60 days past due will suffer 50 per cent and 100 perc ent discounts, respectively. The Insurance Commission has also included debt and preference share securities, plus mutual funds, in its definition of securities, subjecting them to a 20 per cent discount. Cash held outside the Bahamas will not have to b e discounted at all. In an earlier August 13, 2 010, letter sent to Insurance Commissioner L ennox McCartney, the BGIA had argued that the initial discounts were "extremely punitive" in comparison to other regulatory regimes and rating agency requirements. "In particular, corporate bonds, mutual fund and preference shares are inappropriately lumped into 'other assets', and receive a 100 per cent discount unless approved for a lower discount by the Commission," the BGIA letter said. The industry is of the view that a 100 per c ent discount is inappropriate for the overwhelming majority of such investments....." The BGIA instead proposed discounts more in line with Canadian regulatory requirements, and warned of the Insurance Commission's proposed asset discounts: "The excessive level of the existing capital requirements will restrict the ability of local insurers to compete in the region and will lead to higher consumer prices. The requirement to seek approval for the u se of a more appropriate discount factor for many of these 'other assets' will be a huge business interruption for the industry, will consume significant resources of the Commission, without yielding significant benefits." The BGIA letter instead proposed that rather t han a 100 per cent discount, mutual fund shares r eceive only a 15 per cent discount if they were in a fund recognised by the Securities Commission. Otherwise, a 25 per cent discount should be applied. C orporate bonds were recommended for an 8 per cent discount if they were held in a company listed on a recognised exchange, 12 per cent othe rwise; with the same requirement for preference shares a 15 per cent discount if held in a listed company on a recognised exchange, 20 per c ent if not. T he BGIA letter also warned that a 100 per cent discount on investments in ordinary shares of private companies was "excessive in the vast majority of circumstances", and should ber educed to 25 per cent. Elsewhere, the Insurance Commission gave companies permission to borrow sums not to exceed more than 5 per cent of assets if, in the case of a catastrophe hazard, it had not responde d to a request for approval within two business days. To ease the burden on sub-agents, the Insurance Commission has raised the threshold at which they have to be registered (incorporatedf rom $100,000 to $250,000 in annual commissions. In addition, sub-agents will not be permitted to sell insurance for more than one company life org eneral to avoid potential conflicts of interest. F ROM page 1B INSURANCE REFORMS GOING THE RIGHT WAY provided for under the current Customs Management Act. Taking matters to court requires a lot more investigation, and challenges can exist in some cases in getting key foreign witnesses to testify. They may be prepared to give information but they may not be as forthcoming to come to the Bahamas and stand before a court of law, said Mr Gomez. However, with maximum in house penalties of $5,000 under the Act, and no provision for the public to be made aware when firms are found guilty under current legislation, there is in some cases lit tle incentive for businesses not to re-offend. Asked how much the fine may be increased by under the new legislation, Mr Gomez said: We have recommended that it be improved quite a lot. There would also be certain other penalties that will apply that may not now apply to act as a deterrent. We will also make it public. Youre not coming here and walking out as if nothing happened. People will know Customs caught you doing this and that. Bahamians always want to give the impression they are above board, but if I know you are charging me high prices for goods but evading Customs, I might think twice about patronising your business. Corruption As for corruption in Customs, which might in some cases facilitate businesses who may wish to evade paying duty, Mr Gomez said he believes it has been curtailed to a degree. We wouldnt want to be an ostrich with its head in the sand and say its stopped; its s till there to some level, but i ts not what it used to be w hen I came in 2009. We want to do more to try to get people to focus on the fact that we're professionals, so let's do a professional job, he added. Mr Gomez said that under the new Code of Conduct to be introduced in the Customs Management Act, the Department will be able to more successfully address disciplinary issues. Right now, you find that if we warn an officer about something you have to use General Orders and it does not always fit in with a uniformed entity. We are structuring it to Customs: What a customs officer does, what is expected for him to do or not d o, and what are the conseq uences, Mr Gomez said. It will also set up something like a commission or committee to be made up of about five persons who are not just from Customs, and if there are complaints an offi cer has to answer, he will go before the committee and their penalty will be decided. Customs to name and shame firms F ROM page 1B Department for the five-month period over 2009 figures to in most part, the vigilance of customs officers. We are very pleased that the officers are doing their jobs in a much more professional way. They are more enthused about what they are doing despite withdrawal of overtime. They are detecting more things, and we are quite pleased with their performance so far, said Mr Gomez. However, he admitted that the collections are still below the Governments expectations. Meanwhile, the Department is seeking to address a grave smuggling problem in the country, he said. The Ministry of Finance makes certain esti mates for the Department, and a lot of times there's a variance between what we do and what the Ministry of Finance has estimated that we do, so that's always the dialogue, said the Customs chief. Meanwhile, Mr Gomez told Tribune Business he knows nothing about an Inter-Amer ican Development Bank-funded technical cooperation project involving the Bahamas Customs Department. Preliminary details of the project were posted on the IDBs website yesterday. Under the title Strengthening the Customs Department in the Bahamas, the IDB said thei nitiative is intended to assist the Customs D epartment with the implementation/cus tomisation of customs training modules and the restructuring of the training function within the Customs Department. Minister of State for Finance, Zhivargo Laing, who has ministerial responsibility for Customs, also said he was unaware of the pro-j ect yesterday. FROM page 1B CUSTOMS REVENUES UP $8M OVER 2009
C M Y K C M Y K LOCAL NEWS PAGE 6, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010 THE TRIBUNE TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM
C ANDICE CHOI, AP Personal Finance Writer N EW YORK The personal touch is making a comeback. That old-fashioned habit of s topping in at your local branch is being encouraged again ast he banking industry looks to put the spark back in service. T he push to cozy up to customers is part of a strategy to c ompete in a radically chang ing marketplace. Most notably, a battery of regulations signed into law this year will sharply limit the credit and debit card r evenue that fattened industry profits in recent years. T o recoup some of those lost billions, banks want to squeeze m ore from each customer. That means convincing them to sign up for a wider range of services, including mortgages and wealth management. And customers are still more at ease making major life decisions in person. I t explains recent moves by the industry's biggest players: Citi: On Thursday, the bank opened its first flagship location on a busy corner in New York City's Union Square neighborhood. With sleek leather couches and soft lighting, the airy space r esembles a modern hotel lobby and has a private seating a rea for premium customers. It also offers free WiFi and 24hour customer service assis tance via video in the ATM lobby. At a ribbon-cutting cer emony, CEO Vikram Pandit said Citi plans to open similar locations around the country. To inspire warmer service, the bank also shut down b ranches early one Saturday in September to stage revival-like t raining sessions for employees. They were encouraged to jump u p and shout suggestions on how to win over customers. Additionally, hours at select locations were expanded in the past year; and pay for branch m anagers is now tied to customer satisfaction surveys. Bank of America: The nation's largest bank is adding m ortgage, small business and investment specialists to select branches early next year. The aim is to gauge how they can help attract more customers. Personal bankers are also being trained to spend more t ime with customers. "I'm not just trying to move c ustomers in and out," said Felipe Pradas, who works at a B ank of America in New York City. Now he asks new cus tomers more personal questions so he can suggest the optimal products. He even introduces them to the branch manager asa finishing touch. Bank of A merica wants to diminish the frustrations that can stem from i ts size. Customers who have probl ems that can't be resolved immediately in the branch are now issued a tracking number so they know the matter won't be lost. C M Y K C M Y K BUSINESS THE TRIBUNE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010, PAGE 7B TO DISCUSS STORIES ON THIS PAGE LOG ON TO WWW.TRIBUNE242.COM 6+(/'21(&85,7,(6/,0,7('9ROXQWDU\/LTXLGDWLRQf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f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f1RWLFHLVKHUHE\JLYHQWKDWWKHDERYHQDPHG &RPSDQ\LVLQGLVVROXWLRQZKLFKFRPPHQFHG RQGD\RI)HEUXDU\7KH/LTXLGDWRU $UJRVD&RUS1DVVDX %DKDPDV $5*26$&253/LTXLGDWRUf MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer WASHINGTON Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday that the $700 billion financial bailout will end up costing taxpayers less than congressional analysts have estimated. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that taxpayers will lose $25 billion on the rescue of banks, other financial institutions and automakers that came in at the peak of the crisis in the fall of 2008. Geithner told a hearing by a congressionally appointed panel that it will cost less than that. "Those estimates are now around $25 billion," Geithner said. "They are too high, in my judgment. Ultimately, they'll be lower." Geithner didn't provide another cost estimate. Measured in cost, he said, the bailout "will rank as one of the most effective crisisreponse programs ever implemented." The most important fact, he said, is that the government's combined investments in banks, financial institutions, automakers and credit markets "will show a positive return," he said. "The losses will be limited to the amount we spend on our housing programs." Stronger Geithner said the U.S. financial system today "is in a much stronger position than it was before the crisis." Still, he acknowledged, with unemployment hovering at an average 10 percent, "Our work is not done. ... The damage is still profound and tragi c." He also said the housing market remains weak. Geithner said the govern ment is trying to keep as many struggling borrowers as possible in their homes in several programs and is putting downward pressure on mortgage rates through agreements with finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government has been buying securities backed by mortgages that are issued by Fannie and Freddie. Sen. Ted Kaufman, the panel's chairman, said the economy "is in a tremendously better place today than it was" before the financial rescue came in. "But we must not forget the pain that continues to plague s o many Americans," he said. "Fifteen million Americans still cannot find a job. As many as 13 million families will lose their homes to foreclosure in the next few years." NEW YORK Oil prices slid Thursday below $88 a barrel on concerns about the euro zone debt woes which overshado wed another batch of posi tive economic news in theU nited States. While European leaders d ebated how to counter the region's painful debt crisis, U.S. government agencies said fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits and housi ng starts rose slightly in November. That followed ear-l ier reports that factory production and retail sales posted g ains in November. Benchmark oil for January delivery fell 92 cents to settle at $87.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. M ichael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & EconomicR esearch, said traders are cautious because signs of the i mproving economy have been offset recently by occasional warnings about infla tion as well as unemployment that remains at 9.8 percent. Also, the dollar got a little stronger on Thursday, makingoil more expensive for buyers with foreign currency. Most global crude demand growth this year came from emerging economies, led by China. Some analysts expect Chinese demand for commodities will likely fade in coming years as the economy shifts toward services. Geithner says bailout will cost less than $25 billion AP Photo/Alex Brandon) TESTIMONY: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies on Capi tol Hill in Washington Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, before the Congressional Oversight Panel hearing on TARP. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SAMANTHA BOMKAMP, AP Transportation Writer NEW YORK FedEx Corp. thinks the global economic recovery is becoming more balanced, as growth improves in Europe and the U.S. while it moder ates in Asia. After the company on Thursday reported lower quarterly earnings but raised its outlook for the fiscal year, CEO Fred Smith said that shipping demand from both consumers and businesses is picking up. And he expects stronger manufacturing and industrial production to push shipping volume higher in the coming months. Smith said Asian economic expansion has slowed, but it's still growing faster there than elsewhere. European economies are performing better-thanexpected, he said, while the U.S. economy is gaining steam. "I don't think we're ever going to catch Asia, and I don't think anyone expects us too," said Jeff Kauffman, an analyst with research firm Sterne Agee. "But I believe FedEx is saying 'the world is looking better than we thought three months ago." FedEx, based in Memphis, Tenn., is the world's secondlargest package delivery company. It is a bellwether of global economic health among analysts and econo mists because it ships a wide variety of goods, which reflects the ups and downs of business and consumer spending. BANKS SMARTEN UP BRANCHES TO WOO CUSTOMERS PERSONAL TOUCH: Citi CEO Vikram Pandit at the new high-tech banking center in New York Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. A P P h o t o / M a r y A l t a f f e r Oil falls on euro zone debt crisis In brief FedEx sees str onger mor e balanced global r ecover y