The Department of Statistics released the preliminary results of its November 2016 Labour Force and Household Survey during a press conference at its offices Wednesday, December 21, 2016.

    Senior Statistician and statistician responsible for the survey Cypreanna Winters said since May 2016, the unemployment rate declined from 12.7% to 11.6% due to an increase (4,025) of employed persons and a decrease (2,155) of unemployed persons. The three most populated islands that were surveyed experienced decreases in their employment rates. At the time of the survey (October 24-30), the rate in New Providence was 12.9%; in Grand Bahama 13.3% and Abaco 9.1%. The islands of Bimini and Exuma were included to this survey round. Their unemployment rates were 4.0% and 8.0% respectively.

    Among the employed labour force, there were more men than women. However, in all the islands surveyed except Bimini and Exuma, men were fewer in numbers among the unemployed labour force.

    Employment among youth (15-24 years) decreased slightly since May. However, when compared to November 2015, employment among the youth increased by 4.3%. The youth unemployment rate stood at 25.1% in November.

    Discouraged workers in the country declined by 15% over the six-month period. New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco experienced declines in the number of discouraged workers – 16%, 18% and 11% respectively. These persons, according to the standard definition of the International Labour Organization (ILO), did not look for work because they believed no jobs were available for them.

    Additionally, the data showed:

    Thirteen hundred and eighty-five (1,385) persons were employed as a direct result of Hurricane Matthew.

    The construction industry showed the largest growth in employment since May.

    Twenty-three percent 23% of the labour force was made up of persons between 25 and 34 years.

    Twenty-two percent (22%) of unemployed persons were between 20 and 24.

    Sixty-two percent (62%) of employed labour force was engaged by the private sector.

    The community, social and personal service industry, which includes the civil service, police service and domestic service continued to be the country’s largest employer in 2016 and accounted for 30% of the workforce.

    The department of Statistics is the government agency mandated by law to collect, process, analyze and disseminate statistics. Its mandate is to deliver timely official statistics.




    Several outstanding marines from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force were recognized for their dedication and devotion to duty during the Force’s Annual Christmas Carol service at Coral Harbour Base. Receiving the Defence Force’s top award as Marine of the year was Marine Seaman Michael Williamson from the Squadron Department, who received the Leon Smith Award. This trophy is in honor of the first Bahamian Commander Defence Force, who headed the Defence Force from 1983 –1997. Commodore (Retired) Leon Smith and his wife Mrs. Smith, were in attendance to present the award.

    Leading Woman Marine Denise Oliver from the Training Department was the 1 st runner-up and Able Seaman Rodney Adderley from the Military Police and Force Protection Department received the 2 nd runner-up trophy. Marines from the various departments of the Defence Force were also recognized

    as overall winners in their respective departments.This festive occasion serves as a time of reflection and thanks for the Officers and Marines. Defence Force Chaplain, Reverend Prince Bodie challenged those in attendance not to miss out on the greatest opportunity during this season. As he recounted the Christmas story, he encouraged them all to make room in their hearts for the Christ child.

    Captain Tellis Bethel, Commander Defence Force (Acting) encouraged the Officers and Marines to stay focused on the tasks ahead, and congratulated them for a productive and rewarding year. In thanking the hardworking members of the Force, he reminded them to rise to the challenge ahead, and to continue making a positive impact for the betterment of our nation.

    RBDF Photo shows: Marine Seaman Michael Williamson receiving his plaque for overall Defence Force Marine of the Year from Commodore (Retired) Leon Smith during the Annual Christmas Carol

    service. From left: Acting Lieutenant Commander Omarv Saunders, Captain Coral Harbour Captain Clyde

    Sawyer, Commodore (Retired) Leon Smith, Marine Seaman Michael Williamson and Captain Tellis

    Bethel, Commander Defence Force (Acting).




    The Bahamas and Belize have collaboratively made history by winning the Compete Caribbean Mediathon held recently in Barbados, November 22nd-23rd, 2016. It was the Caribbean’s first mediathon.

    The winning proposal came from a team comprising University of The Bahamas Director of Communication Mrs. Tameka Lundy and UB Media Journalism student Deanya Knowles and Belize television personalities Courtney Weatherburne and Marleni Cuellar.

    The winning proposal, called “STEM-tastic”, aims to leverage traditional and new media to increase the participation of Caribbean nationals in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. The proposal involves producing a whimsical book series for 8-11 year olds in the Caribbean region which showcases success stories of individuals whose STEM careers have made them icons. The compelling feature of the book series would be the use of augmented reality technology to reinforce interest in books and reading and encourage young children to aspire to careers in the STEM field.

    Each team pitched ideas to a judging panel of experts which included Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, Sylvia Dohnert; IDB Communications Consultant, Pamala Proverbs; Secretary General of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Sonia Gill; Editor-in-Chief of MIT Technology Review, Marta del Amo and Rudy Hogan, Second Secretary Development, Government of Canada.

    The Bahamas-Belize team will be funded to participate in an overseas science, technology and innovation communications event and will receive three mentoring sessions with OPINNO, a global innovation firm that helps large corporations to transform through the innovative methodologies used by start-ups and entrepreneurs.

    Compete Caribbean hosted the media challenge to engage media and communication professionals in the production of content to support science, technology and innovation in the Caribbean region. Compete Caribbean is a private sector development programme that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) development activities in the Caribbean region. The programme, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of Canada, supports projects in 15 countries.

    Photo Caption: From left are: Deanya Knowles, UB Media Journalism student (Bahamas); Courtney Weatherburne, television news anchor and reporter (Belize); Marleni Cuellar, television presenter (Belize); Javier Iglesias, Director, OPINNO and UB Director of Communication Mrs. Tameka Lundy (Bahamas).




    The Department of Statistics was judged the winner of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs’ first ‘Orange Your Office’ Competition held November 25 through December 10, 2016. The Salvation Army’s Centre for the Deaf received honourable mention as the runners-up for the competition. The Orange Your Office Competition was held as part of the activities commemorating National Women’s Week in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and was also staged as part of the United Nations’ Sixteen Days of Activism Campaign -- UNiTE to End Violence Against Women – which is designed to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world through education and awareness.

    The Sixteen Days of Activism Campaign began November 25, which is celebrated as ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women,’ and ended December 10 -- observed as ‘International Human Rights Day.’ Countries and activists around the globe were encouraged to wear and display the colour orange during the sixteen days of activism. The colour orange was selected to symbolize a brighter future for women without violence. Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin applauded participants from seven government departments/ministries and the Salvation Army’s Centre for the Deaf for taking part in the competition.

    “We were initially planning on having just one winner, but given the excellent work of the children from the Salvation Army’s Centre for the Deaf, we thought it only fitting to give them honourable mention and to announce them as the runners-up for the competition,” Mrs. Griffin said. Other participants included The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism, the National Training Centre, Bahamas Mortgage Corporation, Department of Housing, Public Hospitals Authority and Local Government.

    The competition was based on creativity and design; use of theme; originality and overall attractiveness and appeal. Judges were selected based on their expertise in gender-based violence, cultural arts and cultural production. Mrs. Griffin stated: “I appreciate the time the judges took to assist us in this process and their willingness to lend their talent and support to our campaign to end violence against women and girls.”




    The Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan met with Consultants from BKP Development Research and Consulting, an economic research and consulting firm based in Germany, and the World Trade Institute, an academic institution of the University of Bern, Switzerland, December 8, 2016 to discuss the development of a vulnerability study to assess the potential impact of trade agreements on the Bahamian economy.

    In October 2008, the Bahamas Government signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with CARIFORUM Member States (CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic) and the European Union (EU). The Agreement represents the first negotiated reciprocal trade agreement for The Bahamas and addresses trade in goods and services, investment, trade-related issues such as innovation and intellectual property, as well as links to development cooperation.

    It is anticipated that the EPA should assist the private sector in accessing export markets in Europe and the wider Caribbean, and also provide preferential access for European goods and services to CARIFORUM markets.

    Additionally, the government is currently in the process of negotiating membership to World Trade Organization, which will require compliance with a number of trade agreements.

    While cognizant of the benefits that trade agreements may provide for The Bahamas, the government is also mindful of the potential impact that such agreements may have on vulnerable sectors of the Bahamian economy.

    As such, the government, through the Ministry of Financial Services, which has responsibility for international trade, has retained the services of BKP Consulting, headed by lead Consultant Dr. Derk Bienen, and Professor Pierre Sauvé of the World Trade Institute, to identify those sectors of the Bahamian economy which may benefit from trade liberalization and those sectors which may be the most vulnerable to trade liberalization, and to provide advice on the various policy options that the government may deploy to address those vulnerabilities.

    The Ministry of Financial Services organized consultations with a cross section of public and private sector stakeholders from December 8-13, 2016 to discuss the study being undertaken by BKP Consulting.

    While in The Bahamas, the Consultants also met with officials of the National Development Plan Secretariat, as the government seeks to finalize ‘Vision 2040,’ the National Development Plan of The Bahamas.

    The Consultants are also collaborating with a team of faculty at the University of The Bahamas.




    The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the National Junkanoo Committee held a ceremony at Government House Monday, December 12, 2016 to induct 24 persons into the Junkanoo Legends Circle. Hosted by and held under the patronage of Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor-General, the ceremony recognized individuals for their contributions to Junkanoo on both the senior and junior levels. The honorees were congratulated by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie. Honourees pictured with the Governor-General and the Prime Minister are Kermit "Scrappy" Bastian; Delvin "Cheese" Moss; Kimsley Ferguson; Robert Ferguson; Gus "Big Jew" Outten; Dr. Tyrone McKenzie; Reynard "Hastie" McPhee; Allan McClain; Brian Cleare; Gregory "Peppa" Clarke; Derick W. King Sr.; Jack Knowles; Walton "Showboat" Cooper; Kirkwood Tyrone "Mullet" Roker; Judy Persis-Charlow; Karin Pinder-Munnings; Kingsley "Red Neck" Pickering; Gary "Super" Johnson; Troy Adderley; Stephen Bain; Eugene "Whitey" Higgs; Anton Saunders; Clive Stuart; and Dawn Forbes. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)




    Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, announced another initiative of the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs to ensure that persons with disabilities are employed by the Government.

    “I’m very happy to announce that we are working to take these efforts to another level. The US State Courts, the IDB and the Erin Gilmour School for the Blind are working with us to use ICTs [information and communication technologies] to train sight-impaired persons as digital transcriptionists. We have asked that the digital transcription solution for our courts include the capacity for sight-impaired persons to be transcriptionists,” she said.

    The Attorney General explained that workers with disabilities employed at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs use the JAWS software and those at the Registrar General’s Department use technology that enables sight-impaired persons to see computer screens clearly.

    “We find that hearing impairment is not a hindrance to productivity at OAG,” she said. “ICTs are making a positive impact on our ease of doing business efforts and sight and hearing-impaired persons are helping us in these efforts.”

    The Attorney General was the keynote speaker at a workshop hosted by The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) in conjunction with the Government of The Bahamas and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union on Thursday, December 8, at Melia Nassau Beach Resort.

    The aim of the workshop, entitled “ICT for persons with disabilities,” was to make policymakers, educators, broadcasters and persons living with disabilities and the public aware of technology that will enhance the quality of life and provide opportunities for persons living with disabilities.

    Mrs. Maynard-Gibson remarked that it was in 2001 that Major Mason of the Salvation Army encouraged her to commit to including sight-impaired persons as members of her Ministry’s team. He told her that there would be significant socio-economic impact if the Government deliberately determined to employ persons with disabilities.

    “In every Ministry that I have been a part of, and in the private sector, I have had the support of the Erin Gilmour School for the Blind in engaging persons as team members,” she said.

    “We envisage the day when, using ICTs, there will be a division of the Salvation Army that transcribes documents for our Courts or anyone else requiring transcription.

    “The ability of our Courts to promptly provide transcripts will improve efficiency in the administration of justice and our ease of doing business rating.

    “Government has embraced the transformative power of ICTs. ICTs have transformed our lives. In The Bahamas, the first SMART Island in this hemisphere, persons with disabilities are participating in this transformation.

    “The Government’s vision is for the creation of a society in which being digitally connected is a way of life, where creativity is stimulated and various advances in ICTs is encouraged, nurtured and developed so that the gifts, talents and capabilities of each individual are fully developed. It is important, therefore, that people benefit on an equal basis from the development of technology to ensure that they access an information society that is inclusive and free from barriers.”

    Workshop topics included: “ICTs and Communication Accessibility for the Deaf.” “ICTs and Communication Accessibility for the Blind.” Facilitators were: Kamar Groves and Conrad Harris. Also participating were Stephen Bereaux, Acting CEO Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority and Trevor Prevatt, Consultant and Representative of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union. Representatives of the Special Education Section of the Ministry of Education; the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities led by Mrs. Sheila Culmer; the Erin Gilmour School for the Blind and the Centre for The Deaf were in attendance.




    Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, Director, Economic Development and Planning Unit, Office of the Prime Minister gave an in-depth presentation during a conclave to discuss the four pillars of the National Development Plan (NDP) at SuperClubs Breezes, Thursday, December 8, 2016.

    Representatives from the Steering Committee, Government agencies, civic organisations, the University of The Bahamas and other interested persons and entities attended the Conclave on the NDP’s four pillars: Human Capital, Governance, the Environment and the Economy.

    Dr. Virgill-Rolle said, “Under the pillars, the plan calls for a safe and well-governed society, the innate potential of each person is protected and nurtured, a well-diversified, strong economy and a modern Bahamas – beautiful and resilient.”

    The Director presented in detail the 15 goals that the NDP hopes to achieve within the four pillars.

    Under the pillar of Governance, the goal is that:

    • The Bahamas will have a modern, open and accountable service oriented Government that is well trusted by citizens, residents and the business community;

    • The Bahamas will have Well-Governed Public institutions and Engaged Citizens to Strengthen its Democracy;

    • The Bahamas will have a law abiding society in which rules are respected and communities can thrive; and

    • The administration of justice will be made more efficient, methodical, fair and effective through coordinated action by the police, courts and corrections services.

    Dr. Virgill-Rolle explained that under the pillar of Human Capital, the goal is that:

    • The Bahamas will have a modern, sustainable & universally accessible health care system that is wellness focused and delivers continuously improving outcomes;

    • The Bahamas will have a best in class, comprehensive and effective education system; and

    • The Bahamas will be a nation free of poverty and discrimination (including discrimination based on gender, nationality and disabilities).

    Under the pillar of the Environment, Dr. Virgill-Rolle said:

    • The Bahamas will have a land administration system which is efficient and fair;

    • The Bahamas will have an effective interconnected transportation system that enables the free flow of people and goods;

    • The Bahamas will have modern infrastructure in New Providence and the Family Islands built to grow the economy to withstand the effects of climate change and rising sea levels; and

    • The Bahamas will have a natural environment that supports the long-term sustainable development of the Bahamian economy and way of life for generations.

    Under the pillar of the Economy:

    • The Bahamas will have a healthy macro-economic environment that supports growth and stability;

    • The Bahamas will have a competitive business environment for economic success that supports business development, innovation, wealth creation, entrepreneurship and job growth;

    • The Bahamas will have a diversified and resilient economy that provides opportunities for the expansion of both existing and new industries; and

    • The Bahamas will have a fair, flexible and effective labour regime.

    Dr. Virgill-Rolle said, “The NDP consists of six priority areas: transparency, accountability and effectiveness in Government; a healthy, productive workforce for a modern world; enduring citizen security; inclusive economic growth through empowerment, business climate improvements and diversification and a sustainable and resilient environment.”

    The National Development Plan provides a roadmap for the future development of The Bahamas. The Plan includes a comprehensive policy framework that will guide Government decision-making and private sector investment over the next 25 years to ensure growth and prosperity.

    It is an initiative developed in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank and in close cooperation with the University of The Bahamas, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, Civil Society and other political stakeholders. The Plan is guided by extensive research, analysis and widespread public consultation aimed at addressing four main policy pillars.




    The sounds and sights of ‘Things Bahamian’ including festive costumes, goat skin drums, cowbells and conch shells resonated in the Church of God of Prophecy, East Street, as students and teachers from private and public schools throughout the country participated in the Annual Festival of Carols.

    The primary, junior and senior school students used their talents and abilities to ring in the spirit of Christmas playing musical instruments, dancing and singing in celebration of the birth of Jesus. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology hosted the traditional event Thursday, December 8, on the theme “Celebrating the True Meaning of Christmas”.

    Deputy Director in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Seretha Clarke, said the event sets the tone for the season and seems to get better with each passing year.

    She described the Festival’s theme for 2016 as “appropriate” particularly in light of the devastation of Hurricane Matthew on The Bahamas.

    “We have much to celebrate and be thankful for," she said. "Christmas is about sharing God’s love and peace.”

    She encouraged the audience to focus on the blessings of family, friendships and relationship with God and not material things.

    In his message, Pastor Sterling McPhee, Vice-Principal of D. W. Davis Junior High School, urged those in attendance to celebrate the gifts and abilities to that God has provided them with.

    “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, there is a gift resonating in you. Christmas is about you. Just like the Christ child, you are a gift to the nation and to the world. ”

    Some of the show-stopping performances included: “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” by Daniel Symonette, who sang and played the piano; a jazz selection by students of St. John’s College entitled “Mary Did you know”; Devin McKenzie and the students of C.V. Bethel Senior High School with “When a Child is Born,” and a trio by three male students who sang “We Three Kings,” unaccompanied.

    Students received high acclaims for the following: Yellow Elder Primary School for their welcome performance; the dance by students of C.R. Walker Senior High School; the combined Christmas chime selection by Cleveland Eneas and T. G. Glover Primary Schools; the Centre for the Deaf’s selection to “Now Behold the Lamb”; “Long Time Ago in Bethlehem” by students of S.C. McPherson Junior High School; “Silent Night” by Temple Christian High School; a Spanish version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by H.O. Nash High School; an instrumental ensemble by Doris Johnson Senior High School, Performing Arts Department’s ensemble and Sir Gerald Cash Primary School’s “Rake-N-Scrape” selection.

    The Governor-General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Bishop Hulan Hanna, senior Education officials, school administrators and parents attended the event. (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna/Letisha Henderson)




    Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Disability Affairs Division and related non-governmental organizations held an Educational Forum and Exhibition on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at the Stapledon School Auditorium, Dolphin Drive. To the theme, “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want,” highlights of the events were: International Day of Persons with Disabilities remarks by Minister of Social Services and Community Development the Hon. Melanie Griffin; presentations by National Commission for Persons with Disabilities Chairman DeCosta Bethel and Bahamas Alliance for the Blind and Visually Impaired President Tyrone Johnson; exhibits and entertainment. The commission works to protect the rights of all persons with disabilities -- safeguarding dignity, free from discrimination; facilitating access to suitable employment and to training, education, and health care services; and mandating a barrier free and disabled-friendly environment in which to live and work. (BIS Photos/Kristaan Ingraham)






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