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  • “I MAY NOT BE AS RICH AS MY FRIENDS… BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT I DESERVE THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES.” – ARIEL KIRLEW, 2017 NATIONAL BURSARY SCHOLAR

    “Your country has invested in you. You now invest in your country,” Minister of Education the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd told nearly 400 scholarship winners of the National Bursary Scholarship to the University of The Bahamas (UB) at a ceremony on Wednesday, evening, August 16, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Church Hall, Boyd Road. The National Bursary Scholarship to the University of The Bahamas is awarded for receiving either five or more Bahamas General Certificates of Secondary Education (BGCSE) inclusive of Mathematics and English Language, or maintaining a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher for a minimum of one year at UB. Among them, 288 Scholars received the National Bursary Award which covers tuition and fees up to a maximum of $2,500, and 101 scholars received a limited scholarship in the amount of $1,875 per semester for one year. A total of 27 high school seniors who had taken BGCSE’s in grade 10 and 11 and had obtained the necessary passes also prequalified. To maintain the scholarship, students must achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be eligible to keep the award. The Minister indicated that the Ministry of Education has afforded over 1,000 grants and scholarships to students this year of which 60 percent was afforded to students from government schools.

    An atmosphere of immense gratitude was created when 2017 Bursary Scholar from St. Augustine’s College, Ariel Kirlew humbly expressed, “I may not be as rich as my friends, classmates, or neighbors but I do believe that I deserve the same opportunities…. I am truly grateful for this Bursary Award.” She will be pursuing a Bachelor’s in Accounting. A 2017 Outstanding Bursary Scholar from Nassau Christian Academy, Christina Small also expressed how necessary the Bursary Scholarship is to her, saying “The word scholarship was slipped into almost every conversation involving college.” She will be pursuing a career in Medicine. Both scholars thanked the Ministry of Education and their parents for such great support and the opportunity afforded for their hard work. Representing the parents, who were also very grateful for the assistance of the Bursary Scholarship, Cedric Moss, father of Bursary Scholar Abigail Moss, thanked the Ministry of Education and UB for their “wise investment” and reminded the scholars that “It is easy to fall behind but hard to catch up” in regards to maintaining their scholarships.

    Dr. Rodney Smith, President of UB, contributed many wise words of encouragement to the audience. He connected with the “First Fall class admitted to UB” in letting them know he was also a recipient of the Bursary Scholarship. His father had passed away when he was six years old and he was raised by a single mother of four who worked as a waitress to support them all. The scholarship allowed him to be the first in his family to attend college and allowed him to become what he is today. He said this to show the scholars how important it is to “work hard because you don’t know what you are destined to be… you are the future builders and owners of the UB.” The President also gave wonderful insight into what UB has to offer in its upcoming semester, such as new 2-5 bedroom suites along University Commons in Nassau and Grand Bahama, along with many other improvements that he hopes will make UB “the most beautiful campus in the entire world.” This concept is especially significant because UB is said to be “the only university that considers the entire country to be its campus.”

    The University is also working on study abroad programs so that “By the end of their Junior year, all students will be afforded the opportunity to study abroad.” He also announced his “Thursday open-door policy from 3-5 p.m. for both students and parents.” The award ceremony was moderated by Bursary Scholar Graduates Kendra Ingraham and John Darville.

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  • ‘REFORMATION’ OF STEPHEN DILLET TO BE COMPLETED IN 'RECORD TIME'

    The “wholesale reformation” of the Stephen Dillet Primary School will be completed in record time, Minister of Education, the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd said Wednesday. Minister Lloyd said the end result of the transformation will be the provision of more efficient delivery of education at the facility. “What would have ordinarily taken six-and-a-half to seven months to complete, will be completed in less than four months,” Minister Lloyd said following a tour of the facility. Minister Lloyd accompanied Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis on the tour. “The fact of the matter is that you cannot do this kind of work until school is closed. Therefore, we had to wait until the students and the faculty essentially left the premises (which occurred in early June) before the contractors could get in and begin the wholesale reformation here. They have done a substantive amount of work in a matter of two months, having completed 80 per cent of the work in that period of time,” Minister Lloyd added. The Education Minister said the transformation includes the construction of 29 new classroom spaces in addition to Administrative Offices, library spaces, resource centres, multi-media and media rooms and additional bathroom spaces.

    Two preschool classrooms have been added and will accommodate 40 students. The new preschool spaces will be 100 per cent WiFi “so that we will be able to facilitate the government’s intention of introducing IPADS to preschool school students which will be facilitated here.” An expanded lunch pavilion and a new Tuck Shop area for students have also been included in the “wholesale restoration” of Stephen Dillet. Total cost for the transformation is pegged at $4 million. Minister Lloyd said while he has been advised by lead contractor, Mr. Jack Andrews, that there might be a delay of one week for the students to arrive, the building will be completed on time: “That will occur, not because the school itself will not be finished in terms of construction, but rather because there is new furniture supplies and equipment that will also be installed to supplement some of the older equipment that will be removed,” he said. “So we expect that the teachers are going return on September 4 when school ordinarily would be opened and then the students would come the following week, September 11.” Minister Lloyd said the successful transformation of the Stephen Dillet facility is the result of the collaborative efforts of the contractor and officials at the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Education. “And that is a great credit to Mr. Jack Andrews and his excellent team of construction workers. I also want to point out that Mr. Coleman Andrews (Deputy Permanent Secretary of Physical Plant for the Ministry of Education) has worked very closely with Mr. Livingstone Forbes and the team at the Ministry of Works in order to make this happen today. “We are happy that a Bahamian is the main contractor and that a great deal of Bahamian sub-contractors have been employed and are going to finish this project in record time.”

    Minister Lloyd said while the original design of the Stephen Dillet did not allow for windows, space will be provided for the intrusion of natural light. “So while there will not be windows so that students can come in, or potentially go outside, or somebody enter from the outside, there will be means by which natural light will be infused into the building.” The Education Minister said the transformation of the Stephen Dillet Primary School is part of the Government’s intention of addressing and correcting “an old education infrastructure.”

    “We are at a place in the Ministry of Education where our infrastructure is failing, it’s old, needs to be replaced (and) will be replaced as soon as resources permit,” Minister Lloyd said. “This school has a complement of 821 students. That is slightly over the limit we would like for it to have, but our intention is to ameliorate that circumstance by just simply building more schools, building more classrooms, upgrading the facilities that we have and replacing those that need to be replaced, which we will do so as resources permit.”

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  • P.M & D.P.M LEAD VERIFICATION PROCESS FOR CABINET MINISTERS

    Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Kevin Peter Turnquest led the verification process for Members of Parliament prior to participating in the weekly Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday (August 15, 2017). Prime Minister Minnis and Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest were two of 15 Cabinet Ministers to take advantage of the opportunity provided by officials from the Public Treasury Department who were on hand at the Cecil V. Wallace-Whitfield Centre to conduct the verification process for public service employees there. Other Cabinet Ministers undergoing the verification process included: the Hon. T. Brent Symonette, Senator, the Hon. Carl W. Bethel, the Hon. Desmond T. Bannister, the Hon. Jeffrey L. Lloyd, the Hon. Marvin H. Dames, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, the Hon. Dionisio J. D’Aguilar, the Hon. Michael C. Pintard, the Hon. Darren A. Henfield, Senator, the Hon. Dion A. Foulkes, Senator, the Hon. James Kwasi Thompson and the Hon. Elsworth N. Johnson.

    Cabinet Ministers, the Hon. Romauld S. Ferreira, the Hon. Lanisha T. Rolle and the Hon. Brensil D. Rolle are off island. Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Duane E.L. Sands had already completed the verification process.

    The verification of the Cabinet Ministers/Members of Parliament is part of an ongoing national verification exercise for Government Monthly and Weekly Employees and Senators and Members of Parliament. Verification Centres were established at Ministry of Education schools in New Providence and at Government/Administrator’s Offices in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands since the process began on Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Verification ends Thursday, August 31, 2017. The five Verification Centres in New Providence -- H.O. Nash High School, T.A. Thompson Junior High School, C.C. Sweeting High School, C.R. Walker High School and Doris Johnson High School – will cease operations as of the close of business on Friday, August 18, 2017 in preparation for the upcoming school year. Operations will be relocated to the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

    Treasury officials say Public Officers who are assigned to the Ministry of Foreign and the Ministry of Tourism overseas offices, are expected to verify at their respective locations, “following the procedures that have been forwarded directly to them by the Treasury Department.” Persons who fail to present themselves to be verified will have their salaries interrupted – not ceased -- beginning September, 2017, until such time as they comply with the verification and reinstatement process. Treasury officials further say the 2017 Verification Process is not new in Government, as “some form of the process has been undertaken by all serving Treasurers.” “The verification process actually protects the public service employee because in addition to ensuring that they are legitimate public service employees, it also ensures that we have the correct data on each employee.”

    Officials say not having up-to-date data can, for example, affect employees’ current and future National Insurance benefits and also their Treasury Pensions. Allowances have been made for public service employees on vacation within and outside of The Bahamas. Those traveling outside of the country whose return date will not allow them to return to The Bahamas ahead of the August 31 deadline, can verify at any Bahamas Tourist Office (BTO) or Foreign Affairs Mission abroad while those within The Bahamas can verify at the Administrator’s Office in any Family Island, along with the Public Treasury (Central Abaco and Freeport, Grand Bahama).

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  • NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM

    Youth unemployment still remains considerably higher that any other age group declining by only 1 percentage point, to 24.1 percent. it's a common trend in the region but President and CEO of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation Edison Sumner says a National Youth Appreticeship Program is the answer. It's already a work in progress and is being funded by the Interamerican Development Bank with support from government and local partners.

    Sumner says "what the chamber is looking at is a three prong approach to post secondary education, that is when young people finish high school". The Chamber CEO says you can expect to see initiatives coming forward from the private sector to encourage young people to qualify themselves before getting into the world of works.

    But what are the contributing factors that lead to high unemployment? According to Sumner "the lack of skills and training to qualify for jobs". "Now a key link to training young people for these jobs is identifying what the market is in need of"...Sumner shared with us in his view the market The Bahamas should be capitalizing on that could prove quite lucrative and aid in significantly reducing levels of unemployment.

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  • RAGGED ISLAND & EXUMA M.P ON B.O.B BAILOUT

    Progressive Liberal Party Shadow Minister of Finance, Financial Services and Industry Chester Cooper is supporting the Minnis administration's proposed $166 million bailout of the Bank of the Bahamas' non-perming loans, pledging to take a bi-partisan approach on the matter. Cooper however called out the present government for "marching recklessly against the establishement of Resolve Bahamas, that was created by the Christie Administration.

    He says they now appear to have seen the light, as they walk back what he calls a "harmful position, and fully support the PLP's policy for BOB's recovery." The Member of Parliament for Ragged Island and Exuma says the Bank of the Bahamas is in the financial straights it is in because of what happened over several administrations, adding that Bahamian taxpayers will ultimately be on the hook for the money, and the $100 million transferred under the previous administration.

    While he looks forward to debating the proposed transfer in parliament, Cooper warned that the continued bailout of the Bank of the Bahamas by the Government, on the backs of taxpayers is untenable in the long-term. He says now that there is bi-partisan support because B.O.B is viewed as important to the nation's well-being, confidence in the bank will hopefully be restored to prevent the need for further interventions.

    The opposition member of parliament says he also looks forwards to the bank's turnaround strategy, path to profitability and delievery of systems that will enhance customer service and improve management.

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  • MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT VISITS THE INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION IN THE UK

    The Honourable Frankie Campbell, M. P., Minister of Transport and Local Government of The Bahamas, paid a courtesy call on the H. E. Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), on Friday 14th July, 2017 at the IMO Headquarters in London, United Kingdom. The Minister was accompanied by H. E. Eldred E. Bethel, High Commissioner and Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the IMO, Mr. Don Saunders, M. P., Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Commodore Davy Rolle, CEO and Managing Director of The Bahamas Maritime Authority and Mr. Bernis Pinder, Maritime Liaison, Bahamas High Commission, London.

    During the Courtesy Call the Secretary-General congratulated Minister Campbell on his appointment as Minister of Transport and Local Government. The Minister provided the Secretary-General with an update on the work his Ministry is undertaking, the Maritime Cadets programme for High School students between grades 10-12, and the LJM Maritime Academy. The Bahamas is currently seeking re-election to the Council of the International Maritime Organization under category C. The Bahamas is the sixth largest contributor to the IMO budget. The Bahamas remains the flag of choice for passenger ships. The HARMONY OF THE SEAS, the world’s largest passenger ship, is registered with The Bahamas. The Minister was in London to participate in the 44th Anniversary of independence events hosted by the High Commissioner and to assist with the campaign for re-election to the IMO Council.

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  • HAITIAN MIGRANTS APPREHENDED IN RAGGED ISLAND

    151 Haitian migrants were apprehended in Bahamian waters in two separate incidents between August 9th and 11th in waters of the Southern Bahamas. On August 9th, the US Coast Guard vessel with a Defence Force shiprider on board apprehended 73 Haitian migrants aboard a freighter. Under the Comprehensive Maritime Agreement between the US and The Bahamas, Defence Force personnel are permitted to conduct tours of duty aboard US Coast Guard vessels and to arrest persons engaged in illicit activities in Bahamian waters. A Coast Guard vessel also apprehended a second group of 78 persons on August 11th in waters North of Ragged Island. All migrants apprehended in both incidents were subsequently transferred to the Defence Force patrol vessel, HMBS Arthur D. Hanna, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Berne Wright for transport to New Providence.

    This latest group brings the total Haitian migrant count apprehended in Bahamian waters for the year to over 640 as a result of Defence Force conducting its own patrol operations, as well as RBDF joint operations with The Bahamas Immigration and US Coast Guard authorities. The 151 undocumented migrants arrived earlier this morning at Coral Harbour and are currently under the supervision of Immigration officials for further processing. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force remains committed to defending the territorial integrity of The Bahamas and keeping our borders secure.

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  • LICENSE PLATE MANUFACTURING

    For years now, the Government has been out-sourcing the production of license plates to a United States based company, J.R Wald out of Pensylvania. as of three months ago, this arrangement was disolved and the manufacturing is now being done locally by Bahamians. Officials say " we started at the beginning of May to begin to reproduce, but mainly that was training, so really by June, we stepped in and really began the process of this license plate manufacturing at the prison".

    That's right, inmates at the Department of Corrections in Fox Hill, are now producing the country's license plates. Controller of the Road Traffic Department, Mr. Ross Smith says "since June, the inmates have completed close to ten thousand. Bringing it home makes it easier for us in that we don't have to pay and wait very long for it to be done. Training entails everything, from the use of the computer and how things are first entered into the system. Then, there is the actual manufacturing the plate itself and then the embossing of the plate and logging those plates once they are completed to ensure you don't have duplicates anywhere. It's going well, we had to deal with some kinks as would be with any new system, but those are getting less and less as we progress".

    Mr Smith says he is optmistic that the skills gained by inmates will help to significantly decrease the recidivism rate upon release. They have what they call inmate industries. this is one of the first industries that has been introduced for inmates so that they develop a skill, so that when they leave they can go out and utilize that skill. It's not just manufacturing plates, it also involves the use of computers. So it's very important that we ensure that these men in particular, are really given some opportunity to examine the skills they have. We want to minimize repeat offenders in this country and the only way we can do it is together, I believe this is the beginning of that.

    According to officials the move to diversify the economy could not have come at a better time. They feel it will help to decrease the country's national debt by cutting back on costs while opening up a new sector.

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  • MULTI-ISLAND APPREHENSION EXERCISE

    Again border patrol has spent the weekend transporting more than 200 Haitian migrants from Ragged Island, Exuma and the first sighting in Inagua. Loading their meager personal belongings; the group was turned over to immigration officials. Kirklyn Neely, Head of Immigration Enforcement and his team in the midst of a mutli island apprehention exercise says "occupancy numbers at the detention center this week are around 300. An apprehension exercise set for Friday should take that number down by half. But the trend of more incoming migrants is troubling to immigration officials".

    The apprehensions follow immigration raids here in the capital last week. Immigration Officials took in illegals from Haiti, Columbia, Cuba, Mexico, China, Sri Lanka and Peru. But Haiti remains a sore point.

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  • CHURCH OF GOD WINS INTERNATIONAL TALENT COMPETITION

    The Bahamas walked away with 5 top awards and 7 honourable mentions beating out other young people from the U.S, the U.K, Canada, Africa and the Caribbean just to mention a few of the territories. More than 100 delegates from The Bahamas participated in various categories including dance, choir, ensemble, solo, instrumental and athletics at the International Church of God talent competition. National Treasurer of the Church of God Bishop Joseph Smith congratulated the youth.

    The intense scrutiny and rehearsals put in by the Church of God youth proved that hard work pays off...and leaders say they were happy that lesson was learnt. For top scholarship recipient Antonio Dean whose aspiration is to become a Pediatrition, and 1 year scholarship winner Joey Young its an honour and opportunity they won't soon forget.

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