Education, Science and Technology Minister the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald touted the success of the public-private partnership with Mission: Educate Bahamas/Aetos Holdings Limited that has resulted in the opening of a new state-of-the-art computer lab and library for Sandilands Primary School. Minister Fitzgerald said it is a “true” example of public-private partnership and the commitment Aetos Holdings Ltd. has to the development of education and an appreciation of what it means for national development.

    Her Excellency Governor-General Dame Marguerite Pindling snipped the ribbon and unveiled the plaque Monday, February 20, 2017 to signify the official groundbreaking of the library outfitted with some 4,300 books donated by Berkeley Preparatory School, and a computer lab that has individual computer stations and 40 new computers. Each of the computers is equipped with the ‘Tune Into Reading’ program, an internet-based teaching resource that combines music with literacy skills.

    Joining the students, teachers and administrators of Sandilands Primary School were Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Hon. Fred Mitchell; Director of Education, Lionel Sands; Deputy Director of Education, Seretha Clarke; Buck Johnson, Administrator, Berkeley Preparatory School; Chris Tsavoussis, President, Aetos Holdings Limited; Alexis Tsavoussis, Director, Operations, Mission: Educate Bahamas; education officials, parents, and students of Berkeley Preparatory School. Mission: Educate Bahamas was founded in 2011 with the objective to assist students to excel in academics and reach their true potential through increased education and literacy. Some 1,200 students in four Government schools in New Providence and the Family Islands have benefitted from the program since its inception.

    Entertainment for the event included music by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band and the Sandilands Primary Rake ‘N’ Scrape Band. A Junkanoo “rush out” led by students featured the school’s ‘Seven Habits of Success,’ namely: being proactive, planning, priority, synergy, responsibility, good health and citizenship.

    Her Excellency the Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling cuts the ribbon to officially open a new library and technology lab at Sandilands Primary School as other officials including the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Science and Technology (first from left) look on




    Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon Perry Christie told those attending the 17th Annual National Public Service Week Awards Luncheon, on February 12, 2017, at Atlantis that the event's theme, “The Public Service: In Pursuit of Productivity and Accountability” acknowledged that while The Bahamas' civil service had accomplished much, there was still much more work to do and the need to find novel and improved ways to do it.

    "Today’s realities are different," Prime Minister Christie said at the event, held at the Atlantis Resort Paradise Island. "We live in a more culturally, religious and socially diverse community than ever before. There is a greater number of persons with first and second degrees and we are affected by the explosion of social media which has erupted into our lives with a force beyond our imagination shaping our expectations, desires, and goals for us and our children."

    That, notwithstanding, he noted, The Bahamas by the very nature of its size cannot be immunized from external forces and many of its people -- even those with degrees -- have found themselves unemployed and in dire circumstances; their plight being exacerbated by the arrival of two successive and devastating Hurricanes, Joaquin and Matthew.

    "But it is what it is – we are faced with the circumstances that envelop us, and the most important thing for you as public servants is to adapt, to be innovative and strive to be that bridge that reaches out to all sectors of our community – the young, the not so young and the elderly," Prime Minister Christie said. "Our job is to link the service of government with the people who require the service."

    Public Service Officer of the Year Nominees, this is your time," he added. "You have distinguished yourselves by exemplifying the values of the Service: excellence, integrity, loyalty, and commitment to serve. It is your turn to take the baton and run your leg of the race."

    Prime Minister Christie said that The Bahamas' Public Service had long been the result of our colonial past influenced by the country's northern neighbours.

    "While we may not need to re-invent the wheel, we certainly do need to create a Service that is uniquely suited to the environment and needs of The Bahamas and all of its people," he said.

    Prime Minister Christie told those present that the National Development Plan had identified four pillars upon which the nation must build its future for a stronger Bahamas – the Economy, Governance, Social Policy and the natural and built Environment.

    "As the Government readies itself to embark upon an aggressive development agenda throughout the islands, it will be your responsibility to strengthen the pillars so that The Bahamas can march boldly into the future, he said. "You will be required to demonstrate specified competencies, use multiple social media for messaging, think in new and creative ways, and marshall the forces to fulfil the Government’s mandates."

    Prime Minister Christie said that the assessment of their work will be based upon their integrity, accountability and productivity, and that of their teams.

    "Your clients will judge you by your ability to meet their demands -- and the bar will not be static," he said. "From henceforth, you are the role models for the public service, joining your colleagues who once sat where you now sit."

    Prime Minister Christie charged the public servants present to embrace the opportunities to make a difference.

    "Set goals, draft strategic plans to attain them and demonstrate fiscal prudence," he said. "Be prepared to work in and out of Nassau, to interact with your international counterparts and to base your work, through research and sound data, upon the best practices suited to The Bahamas."

    Prime Minister Christie extended congratulations to the nominees and said that they represented the very best of the Civil Service for 2016/2017, assuring them that The Government has reposed great trust in their abilities.

    "I am confident from what I have heard and read that you are up to the task," Prime Minister Christie said.

    "To the rest of us in the Service, I ask that we seek to work to our full potential for the betterment of The Bahamas," he added. "One day we might be so honoured, but certainly we would want to be able to say in retirement that we have left the Public Service better than we met it.

    "Thank you all for your hard work and thank you to all of the families who have given and continue to give daily support. May God bless you all and bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas."




    Minister of State for Finance the Hon. Michael Halkitis said, on February 9, 2017, that The Bahamas and Japan concluded a Tax Information Exchange Agreement in January 2011 and the signing of the Protocol that day -- six years later -- with Japan was another step towards The Bahamas demonstrating its commitment to maintaining high levels of conduct and International Standards with respect to tax co-operation and tax transparency. "The Bahamas and Japan will also sign a Competent Authority Agreement in the near future," Minister Halkitis said, during the signing ceremony of the Protocol to amend the Tax Information Exchange Agreement between The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the Government of Japan for the exchange of information for the purpose of the prevention of fiscal evasion and the allocation of rights of taxation with respect to income of individuals.

    Minister Halkitis welcomed Ambassador of Japan His Excellency Masanori Nakano and Second Secretary Hideki Shinozaki, both of the Embassy of Japan to The Bahamas, for the signing ceremony. Minister Halkitis said that in 2014 The Bahamas committed to implement the OECD’s Global Forum Common Reporting Standard (CRS) for the automatic exchange of financial account information. "The Bahamas chose the Bilateral approach, which is a bonafide one sanctioned by the OECD Global Forum’s Automatic Exchange of Information Working Group," he said.

    Minister Halkitis pointed out that under the bilateral approach, the legal basis for automatic exchange is found in an income tax treaty with another country containing the standard OECD Model; or Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) which provide for the automatic exchange of information. "Your Excellency, I am pleased to inform you that The Bahamas will continue its co-operation with our Global Forum Partners as well as the G7 and G20 countries to tackle and deter cross-boarder tax evasion," he said. Minister Halkitis noted that it is recognized that cross-boarder tax evasion is a problem faced by jurisdictions all over the world. Persons who do not comply with the tax obligations of their jurisdictions undermined the integrity of tax systems worldwide, he added.

    "The Bahamas’ Automatic Exchange of Financial Account legislation -- together with Agreements and Protocols which allow for the Automatic Exchange of Information -- ensure for greater transparency and an improvement to the integrity of our financial center system," Minister Halkitis said. The Bahamas has committed to exchanges commencing in September 2018 and, as Japan is the first Global Forum Partner with which The Bahamas had signed a Protocol, The Bahamas anticipated an effective exchange of information, he stated. "However, this will not be the only Protocol that The Bahamas will sign," he added. "We are striving to have as many Protocols and Agreements in place with other interested Global Forum Partners."

    Minister Halkitis told Ambassador Nakano that, by the signing of the Protocol, it was evident that The Bahamas was complying with the rules set by the OECD as they related to transparency in tax matters.

    "The Bahamas remains a regulated, compliant and legitimate International Financial Center with a strong Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regime," Minister Halkitis said. "The Bahamas looks forward to our continued relationship with Japan in respect to co-operation in tax matters."




    The High Commissioner of India to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, His Excellency M. Sevala Naik presented Letters of Credence to Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling at Government House on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. (BIS Photos/Letisha Henderson)




    While speaking at the Inaugural Session of the 9th Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Education, on February 9, 2017, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie told participants that collaboration will be a critical component in the realization of their theme for the event, and is regionally relevant and global in scope.

    "The Inter-American Education Agenda: Building Alliances and Advancing Towards the Sustainable Development Goals I think aptly captures what this hemisphere needs to advance education for the greater good of all of our citizens," Prime Minister Christie said during his remarks at the event, held at Atlantis resort, Paradise Island.

    Prime Minister Christie related to the audience that two years prior, that body met in Panama City and the outcome of that meeting had set the stage for the agenda for that current meeting.

    "I can vividly recall the enthusiasm of my Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald upon his return from the meeting in Panama," he noted. "He was eager to host this year’s meeting."

    Prime Minister Christie said that same year, on September 25, 2015 the world transitioned from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) -- namely, “adopting a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all’’.

    He pointed out that the SDGs were the driving force of the current meeting’s agenda.

    "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.

    He added by quoting and agreeing with Minister of Education, Science and Technology and Chair of the Inter-American Committee on Education the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald's assertion that education was also “life-saving”.

    Prime Minister Christie told participants that their two days of sessions would present them with the opportunity to develop strategies to empower our citizens and our countries towards educational success for positive economic, social and cultural outcomes: policies that propel “meaningful action to transform the lives of our children.”

    He stated he was certain the challenges his country faced with respect to education were similar to those of many of the countries represented at the session.

    "Each level of education – 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."

    "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.

    "Now more than ever, we must see to it that children don’t just show up to school, but that they make each second, each minute, each hour, each day, each week, each month, each year spent in school meaningful so as to position themselves through education to be adults who are able to prosper and maximize their potential," Prime Minister Christie emphasized.

    He noted that there was no question that all faced a plethora of challenges as they pursued the mission of educational reform.

    "The challenges that I have touched on are common to nearly all of us in the OAS (Organization of American States), irrespective of culture, ethnicity or economic disparities," Prime Minister Christie said. "These challenges, and the problems that give birth to them, are for nearly all of us common denominators that have relevance and resonance for our respective countries and our national educational systems."

    Therefore, he stated, building and strengthening alliances with each other in tackling those problems and meeting the challenges of which he had spoken were important.

    "I for one, am supremely optimistic that by working together we will be brought ever closer to the realization of the lofty goals we have set for ourselves as we seek to make the peoples of the countries we serve better prepared," Prime Minister Christie said. "Better prepared not only to survive, but to prosper in the challenging and ever-changing world that awaits them."




    The Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Bahamas Minister of Education, Science and Technology, called on education ministers attending the opening ceremony of the 9th Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Education (9IAMME) to ensure that their nations’ schools are as good as they can be, and that teachers have the support, education and resources required to not just educate, but to change -- and in some cases save lives.

    Minister Fitzgerald said the way forward requires a commitment to “partnership” and “alliance-building.” He expressed optimism that the presentations and dialogue today and tomorrow would strengthen relationships and form the basis for cooperation in the future.

    The Education Minister was among officials giving remarks at the official opening of 9IAMME presently underway at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island. Education officials from the Organization of American States (OAS) have gathered to discuss the state of education in the 35 states, and observer states, during the two-day ministerial forum.

    Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, was present at the opening ceremony, Thursday, February 9. Also in attendance were OAS Secretary General His Excellency Luis Almagro and Vice-President of the World Bank, Latin America and the Caribbean His Excellency Jorge Familiar.

    Mr. Fitzgerald said the conference provides an “extraordinary” opportunity to chart the course for education in OAS countries. “When we come together and we share lessons learned, and ideas and strategies for the way forward, we all grow stronger.

    “There is a lot of expertise and a lot of passion in this room, and I know we are all ready to harness that energy and channel it into new policies and collaborations that will make a real difference to the students and educators whom we serve.

    “Many of us spend a great deal of our time thinking about the children who are most vulnerable in our countries -- who seem to begin their lives with the deck stacked against them. We know that for many of these children, school can be not just life-changing, but life-saving,” he said.

    Minister Fitzgerald reminded the education leaders that Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (which is specific to education) mandates them to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and to promote lifelong learning.”

    The three areas of priority for the leaders are: (1) quality, inclusive and equitable education; (2) strengthening the teaching profession; (3) and comprehensive early childhood care.

    Minister Fitzgerald outlined several questions regarding the priority items.

    They include the following:

    How do we reach and serve all of our students?

    How do we upgrade our curricula and standards?

    How do we make learning life-long?

    How do we reward excellence?

    How do we best expand our system to our youngest learners, and what does a quality preschool education comprise?

    “These are questions that confront Ministers of Education every day, and over the course of this meeting, the work we are doing in these areas will inform our discussions and negotiations. Collectively, we bring many thousands of hours of real-world problem-solving on the front lines of education to these joint efforts to determine the actions needed to make the goals of the Inter-American Agenda a reality.

    He said the adoption of the first Inter-American Education Agenda (IEA) by OAS Member States will serve as the framework for the OAS’s work in education and will provide a strong foundation on which to build hemispheric cooperative efforts in education.

    In his capacity as Host Minister and Chair of the 9th IAMME, Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the delegates and assured them that The Bahamas would do its best to make the meeting a success.




    The Bahamas officially opened its inaugural Education Best Practice and Trade Exhibition, a first in the history of the Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Education, as it convened the 9th Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Education Wednesday, February 8th at the Atlantis Convention Centre. The trade exhibition showcases innovative educational products from approximately 20 local and international exhibitors who are also displaying education good practices. The top winners of the National Best Practice Awards and best practices from other Organization of American States (OAS) are also being featured.

    The exhibition caters to the full gamut of educational products and services from local and international vendors and is open to the public.In his remarks, the Hon. Frederick Mitchell, Minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs said the exhibition allows Member States the opportunity to showcase their best practices in education and afford intergovernmental and private organizations the opportunity to showcase the services they provide in the field of education. Minister Mitchell said the exhibition is a “tangible” demonstration of the innovation The Bahamas hopes to bring to its leadership and the opportunities for building cooperation and partnerships possible through the OAS.

    On hand to witness the opening of the trade exhibition were Luis Almagro, Secretary General, OAS; Paulette Zonicle, Consul General to Washington, D.C.; His Excellency Dr. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Ambassador to the United Nations in New York and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States; Donella Bodie, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Permanent Secretary; officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the OAS; Janice Knowles, Chairperson, 9IAMME, Ida Poitier-Turnquest, Assistant Director of Education and Chairperson of the Exhibition Committee, and other members of the Local Organizing Committee for 9IAMME.

    Musical selections were provided by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band, St. John’s College Jazz Band, and the H.O. Nash Junior High School Choir.

    The 9IAMME is taking place February 9-10, 2017 at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island. Ministers of Education are expected to discuss the state of education in the 34 Organization of American States (OAS) and other observer states during the ministerial forum.

    The meeting is jointly organized by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the OAS, the Inter-American Council for Integral Development and the Inter-American Committee on Education.

    Photo Caption: A member of St. John's College Jazz Band performs during the opening of the Exhibition.




    The Registrar General’s Department launched online Registration and Certification at the Government Complex, Bullock’s Harbour, the Berry Islands on Thursday, February 8, 2017 making it possible for persons to visit the Administrator’s Office to obtain copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates without having to travel to Nassau.

    The Department also registered the births of children under three years old, who were born in Nassau but never recorded. Launching the initiative was Registrar General (Actg.) Deidre Clarke Maycock, with the assistance of Island Administrator Marlon Leary.

    One week ago, the Registrar General’s Department also launched online Registration and Certification in North Andros.

    Present at the Bullock’s Harbour launch, along with the Registrar General and the Administrator were: Darian Creary, Deputy Registrar; Elaine Lightfoot, Chief Medical Records Officer; Christopher Hinsey, BTC Senior Manager/Operations for Andros and Berry Islands; Talbot Collie, BTC Vice-President, Family Islands; Cardinal Rolle, Chief Councilor for Berry Islands; ASP Dennis Brown, Officer in Charge, Berry Islands District; Norma Fynes, Registrar General’s Department Assistant Supervisor; and Desiree Edwards, Registrar General’s Department Clerk.The Registrar General’s Department launched online Registration and Certification at the Government Complex, Bullock’s Harbour, the Berry Islands on Thursday, February 8, 2017 making it possible for persons to visit the Administrator’s Office to obtain copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates without having to travel to Nassau.

    The Department also registered the births of children under three years old, who were born in Nassau but never recorded. Launching the initiative was Registrar General (Actg.) Deidre Clarke Maycock, with the assistance of Island Administrator Marlon Leary.

    One week ago, the Registrar General’s Department also launched online Registration and Certification in North Andros.

    Present at the Bullock’s Harbour launch, along with the Registrar General and the Administrator were: Darian Creary, Deputy Registrar; Elaine Lightfoot, Chief Medical Records Officer; Christopher Hinsey, BTC Senior Manager/Operations for Andros and Berry Islands; Talbot Collie, BTC Vice-President, Family Islands; Cardinal Rolle, Chief Councilor for Berry Islands; ASP Dennis Brown, Officer in Charge, Berry Islands District; Norma Fynes, Registrar General’s Department Assistant Supervisor; and Desiree Edwards, Registrar General’s Department Clerk.




    While some companies and local residents are still in a recovery mode from the recent passing of Hurricane Matthew, Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company Limited is expressing confidence in the economic climate of Grand Bahama by announcing a $2 million expansion. Company president, James “Jimmy” Sands made the official announcement during a press conference at the Ministry for Grand Bahama on Monday evening, February 6. Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville said he was delighted with the news and in fact pointed out that construction is well underway for the additional storage facility at the Queen’s Highway-based plant.

    He noted that the company first opened its doors in 2007 with just fourteen employees and an initial investment of some $15 million. “Over the years the staff count has grown to some 120 persons, the investment has tripled, and the Brewery is making a major economic impact to the island of Grand Bahama.

    “Today marks an exciting one in the history of the Bahamian Brewery which to-date, remains a 100 percent Bahamian-owned and operated company, as they are now set to invest another $2 million to expand the warehousing capacity of their business here in Grand Bahama,” Mr. Darville stated. The Minister further remarked that the expansion is yet another sign of the strong investor confidence in both the Government’s policies as well as the local economy on Grand Bahama.

    He pointed out that in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew many businesses in Grand Bahama sustained damage and that he is pleased to hear Mr. Sands talk about the investment, which he described as a “clear indication that the Grand Bahama economy, even though it has been impacted by Hurricane Matthew, local businesses are still going on with initial investment.” Mr. Sands indicated that his company will continue with its upgrades as needed in Grand Bahama, and that several years ago he chose to invest in the island because of its geographical position, and some benefits that attracted him. He admitted also that he had a “soft spot” for Grand Bahama with his mother being born at West End. He pointed out that he has been in the industry for a long time, working firstly in the former company of his father, Butler and Sands.

    With a passion for the beverage industry, Mr. Sands said his decision to return was based on the fact that “it was being monopolized,” he said: he then took it upon himself to bring the industry “back to the Bahamian people, where he thought it belonged.” He declared that the company he created, a mult-million dollar investment, has been a success because of the Bahamians he has employed: “This is a 100 percent Bahamian-owned and operated company which I am very proud to say.”

    He also took time out to thank and say how very proud he is of his 92-year-old father, Everette Sands, whom he described as still being quite active. He continued, he has four children, two of whom are employed with the company and will ensure its survival even after he leaves the scene.




    The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) held a one-day National Quality Policy Workshop on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. Minister of Financial Services and Local Government, the Hon. Hope Strachan delivered the keynote address. She said the workshop is part of the government’s commitment to establishing institutions that ‘position’ The Bahamas to participate in more significant and meaningful ways in the evolving global community. The workshop was held at SuperClubs Breezes.

    “The changing dynamics of the 21st century is creating a new global environment that requires a major paradigm shift by Small Island Developing States like ours,” said Minister Strachan.

    “If The Bahamas is to see continued growth as an emerging market for foreign investments, while creating opportunities for Bahamians to export goods and services to the rest of the world, it is imperative to implement an effective National Quality infrastructure that significantly improves the national quality standards, creates more competitive business environment that benefits consumers, while developing more vibrant regional and global trade agreements, while also continuing to create new markets for Bahamian products and services.”

    The Minister said that the government is currently in the advanced stages of developing the National Quality policy. She said the policy would address organizational structure and corporate governance, the role of external stakeholders, legal financial and logistical issues, and the key regulatory framework.

    Also delivering remarks was Senator the Hon. Jerome Gomez, Chairman, of the Consumer Protection Commission. Senator Gomez addressed the topic, ‘The Importance of Consumer Protection Commission from the Perspective of the Consumer and its Relation with the National Quality Policy’.

    He said that the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) is the government agency that has primary responsibility for policing and enforcing the consumer protection legislation of The Bahamas, namely the Consumer Protection Act (2006) and also Chapter 337B of the Statute Laws of The Bahamas – Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts.

    “Despite this mandate, we are very cognizant of the fact that we cannot and ought not seek to function in a vacuum, or in isolation from other government agencies that also share and have a consumer protection function, BBSQ, URCA; NGOs such as Bahamas Bar Association and Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC); CARICOM, CSME, our regional counterparts and most importantly Bahamian consumers, whose best interests we were created to serve and protect,” said Senator Gomez.

    Also bringing brief remarks were Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, Government Lead on the National Development Plan and Director of Economic Development and Planning Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister, and Edison Sumner, Vice-Chairman of the BBSQ and CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employee Confederation.

    The facilitator of the workshop was Graham Holloway, Team Lead of BKP Research & Development Consulting.





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