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    The Ministry of Financial Services Trade & Industry and Immigration was the Platinum Sponsor of The Nassau Conference held at The Baha Mar Arts Entertainment Centre, October 3-4, 2017. The Nassau Conference guarantees participants a global perspective on matters of everyday concern to industry professionals. The Nassau Conference features topics which are of current interest to industry professionals and speakers. Additionally, this conference creates an opportunity for professionals to gather together with leaders in the industry,

    The Honorable Brent Symonette, M.P., Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration had the opportunity to address the conference giving an overview of the Bahamas financial services sector and delivered a message on “Business Unusual”. Minister Symonette is pictured at podium. Trade Officers at the Ministry’s booth are Angelique Sawyer, left, and Khaliah Brown.




    Undersecretary at the Ministry of National Security Eugene Poitier said, on November 9, 2017, that although The Bahamas is noticing decreases in certain offenses, the murder count continues to be of particular concern, and the levels of violent crimes remain at levels far too high for “such a small nation as ours.” “The fear of crime remains high, has the potential to stifle economic and social productivity, and impacts the quality of life of far too many Bahamians, residents and visitors,” Mr. Poitier said, as he spoke on behalf of Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames, at “A Symposium Connecting the Dots: Child Abuse, Trauma and Violence”, held under the theme “Working Together to Prevent Violence,” at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre. Mr. Poitier noted that the level of violence has not gone unnoticed by the international community. For example, he said, in a 2016 report by the Inter-American Development Bank, its researchers noted that in The Bahamas, “…high levels of crime and violence have consistently risen during the past decade.” “There is the realisation that if we are going to have any measure of success and positively impact crime, our programmes must be designed to aggressively address the root causes and risk factors,” Mr. Poitier said. “These factors include educational attainment, poverty, poor parenting and mental disorders, which are all having a profound impact on the socialization of our children. “This results in many of them turning to a life of crime.”

    Mr. Poitier said that that Ministry of National Security will create multi-agency and multi-disciplinary crime fighting initiatives to address The Bahamas' crime challenges and bring a greater focus to the causes or risk factors versus the symptoms. “The Government has established an inter-ministerial group made up of the Ministries of National Security, Education, Youth Sports & Culture, Social Services, Public Works and Labour,” he said. He added that the ministry is also expected to introduce shortly a holistic social initiative – national in scope – free from silos, that cut across ministerial boundaries and seek to “address those risk factors that are leading our young people to crime.” “The ministry is expanding this multi-disciplinary approach to members of civil society to lend their expertise and experience to the crime fight at the national level,” Mr. Poitier said. He noted that he had the opportunity to join Minister Dames in meeting with Dr. Sandra Dean Patterson of the Crisis Center, who shared details about the many programmes they have in addressing intimate partner violence and child abuse by encouraging victims to “stand up and not to just stand by.” “Given the significant number of domestic related murders, we have decided to partner with Dr. Patterson’s team and others in a meaningful and more tangible way to lower the number of domestic violence cases in our country, thereby reducing the number of domestic-related murders,” Mr. Poitier said.

    Ministry officials, he noted, had also had a series of meetings with Dr. David Allen and his team of experts, of the ‘People Helping People’ programme. “We discussed one of his explanations on the causes of violence, which he described as the Social Fragmentation Process,” Mr. Poitier said. This process, according to Dr. Allen, is manifested through revenge, which results in the disintegration of the family, the development of youth gangs and subsequently violence.” “Since nearly 50 percent of murders involve conflicts and revenge killings, the Ministry will partner with Dr. Allen and other similar programmes that seek to intervene in the lives of troublesome males at a young age, with a view to preventing them from becoming socially fragmented from society,” he added. Ministry officials also held discussions with researchers at the University of The Bahamas and explored ways in which UB can assist the Ministry in finding more evidence-based strategies to combat crime,” Mr. Poitier revealed. They also expressed a willingness to assist us with evaluating anti-crime programmes to determine what impact they are having on crime and safety indicators, he added. “The ministry is also establishing a Crime Advisory Group which will be made up of the business community, civil society, the religious community and other community partners, which will provide input and ideas on crime at the national level,” Mr. Poitier said. “A Technical Advisory Group will also be formed where independent members of the public with special skills, will be able to provide advice directly to the Ministry on cost effective and innovative crime fighting technology.”

    Mr. Poitier said that the on-going Citizen Security and Justice Programme will also be instrumental in seeking to address the level of violence in the nation. The programme, he noted, is made up of the four following components: Crime and Violence Prevention in Targeted Communities; Youth Employability and Employment -- increasing employability and employment of at risk youths between the ages of 15-25 years; Strengthening Prosecution Capacity; and Crime and Violence Prevention in Targeted Communities -- reducing the recidivism rate which involves the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, so that, upon their release from prison, they are equipped to lead crime free lives. Finally, Mr. Poitier said, the Ministry was on the verge of launching a new programme that also sought to address the level of violence in the nation. “Funding in this upcoming Budget will be provided for various neighbourhood safety programmes which will involve community-based partners,” he said. “The National Neighbourhood Watch Programme will form the basis of bringing the community even closer to the police and to work collectively on matters relating to crime prevention.” “Such a Unit will set in place guidelines that will govern the operation of the programme,” he added. Minister Poitier said that it would include CCTV, and citizen patrols and programmes geared toward at risk youths. “We need all Bahamians to step up to the plate, and support the many initiatives that are ongoing,” he said. “We must all work together to ensure that The Bahamas becomes safer and more secure.”




    James Denver Herren, fresh out of an assignment as the Director of Contracts Management in Baghdad Iraq joins the U.S. Embassy Team in Nassau as the Management Counselor and assumed his duties as Chargé d’Affaires on November 9, 2017. Mr. Herren previously served as the Deputy Director of the Joint Administrative Service Platform in Brussels. His other assignments include tours in Haiti, Muscat, Ulaanbaatar, Lusaka, and Wellington.

    Mr. Herren holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in American Studies from Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. While currently a resident of Eureka Springs, Arkansas (located near Fayetteville), he grew up in Ochelata, a small town in the northeastern part of Oklahoma. Before joining the service, he worked a variety of jobs, including as a welder, a bar manager and a foreman on an Alaskan floating fish processor. While working on his masters, he taught entry level university classes on political science, became a police officer, and ran a congressional campaign. Mr. Herren is married and has two daughters. He enjoys golf, hiking and watching American football.




    The Royal Bahamas Defence Force Officers of Entry 33/ Woman Entry 7 -- “No Limit Marines” celebrated 19 years on the job on Thursday, November 09, 2017. As part of this grand celebration, the officers decided to further their contributions to the Bahamian public by paying a special visit to NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) to donate toiletries and other useful goods to hurricane victims on the Family Islands.

    Petty Officer V. Evans on behalf of the team said, “We wanted to show The Bahamas that we care beyond the protection of the borders by giving a helpful donation that could benefit those affected by Hurricane Irma.”

    She also highlighted that Lowe’s played a part in helping to make this contribution. Director of NEMA, Captain Stephen Russell received the provisions which he said will be sent to those victims in Acklins via Royal Bahamas Defence Force flight the following day. Captain Russell expressed that “This is a delightful twist from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force from their great contribution of protecting our borders to a tangible contribution that is greatly appreciated.”




    “It is not a place to be,” said Acting Director of Social Services and Urban Development, Lillian Quant-Forbes.

    “I have seen young men, 14, 16, up there. That bothered me; that affected me. How is it that a young person can commit murder? When we see the impact it is having on us as a nation it gives me concern.

    “A young man who has allegedly committed murder affects the family of the person who was murdered, the family of the young man who is serving time. I beg you to stay on the straight and narrow road. It will not lead you wrong. Many of you go to church. Many of you are brought up in homes. Sometimes you want to try it for trying sake. Listen to the still small voice in your head and go the other way. Be the change that you wish to see in this country.”

    The Acting Director shared this passionate experience of a recent visit to the Department of Corrections with high school students at a Juvenile Forum, Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at the Harry C. Moore Library, University of The Bahamas. The Forum is one of the activities planned to mark Rehabilitation Week being observed from November 6-13, 2017. She implored the students to focus on strengthening their character which will lead to positive changes, improve the quality of their lives and divert them from identity issues, self-destruction and conflicts with the law.

    “When you have your hand in the hand of the man who is the policeman that’s not a good place to be,” she said. The Acting Director outlined the mandate of the Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services to help individuals who are in conflict with the law or who have had contact with the Criminal Justice System. She said the Department has the responsibility to provide such individuals with coping mechanisms, which are necessary to become functioning members of society. Ms. Quant-Forbes highlighted the dangers of cyber bullying and social media referring to the behavior demonstrated on networks as “disturbing” and cause for concern. She urged them to protect themselves, their good names and focus on school work.

    She expressed concern about the number of gangs in New Providence and the Family Islands, the violent crimes they are committing that are affecting the moral fabric of communities, thus the need for the Juvenile Forum to allow them to make better choices and form healthy relationships. Presentations were given by: Superintendent Mark Barrett on Cyberbullying; Assistant Commissioner Ken Strachan on Gang Violence; and Sandra Coleby, Principal Nursing Officer on Sexual Health.




    Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands said on behalf of his Ministry, he is pledging its commitment to ensuring that all victims of violence, especially those victims of abuse in cases of rape and incest, have access to services such as immediate physician attention with a projected increase in medical, physiological and psychiatric personnel. Dr. Sands explained that this pledge will also be possible with the newly opened Child and Adolescent Unit at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as improved quality service that provides privacy and anonymity. The Health Minister was speaking at the ‘Connecting the Dots: Child Abuse, Trauma and Violence Symposium’ at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre, Thursday, November 9, 2017 organized by The Crisis Centre to allow stakeholders to discuss how they can work together to prevent violence. Dr. Sands also said there are plans to renovate and redevelop Accident and Emergency at the Princess Margaret Hospital. “We shall pay deliberate attention to updating the Agape area -- from a single cubicle to an area more suited to our country’s current and projected needs.”

    He added, “Having provided you with concepts on how the Ministry of Health will assist in connecting the dots, I challenge you stakeholders in education, social services and law enforcement to come together as a cohesive group to report every case and to investigate... really investigate every incident.” Dr. Sands said this would help in curbing incidences of gender-based violence, child abuse and sexual abuse. He noted that the information received would allow for the identification of groups and the sector of society affected and assist with the development of strategies, programmes and policies that would ultimately encourage change. Dr. Sands said culturally in The Bahamas, violence is perpetuated as being “forceful/fearless” and in some instances celebrated as a form of discipline -- “keeping your house in order.” He said many Bahamians are of the view that domestic violence is a private matter and not a crime. “However, this so-called ‘private-matter’ is spilling over into our schools where our children, especially the boys are acting out in the form of bullying and gang violence. “Our primary and junior high girls are displaying uncharacteristic ‘womanly’ and violent behaviour because of years of sexual molestation, sometimes from their fathers, uncles or other relatives.”

    Dr. Sands added that in the workplace, women are withdrawn and non-participatory while the men are overly aggressive and argumentative. “We continue to under-report, accept or even encourage inappropriate language, unwanted touching and even overt sexual harassment because ‘that’s how we go’.” The Health Minister said in 2013, the Department of Statistics revealed that some 1,200 women are abused annually. Mirroring these statistics is the Department of Social Services’ report, which indicated that 500 – 600 children suffer abuse annually. “Sadly, as startling as these statistics may be, they do not represent an accurate account of instances of violence and domestic violence, as many of these incidents of violence are not reported and of those reported, the information is not shared.”




    The Governor General, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, pictured, paid respects during the Viewing of the late Parliamentarian Calvin Johnson at Butler's Funeral Home & Crematorium on Wednesday. Members of Parliament also paid their respects -- among them, pictured signing the Book of Condolence is Minister of Public Works the Hon. Desmond Bannister, and, viewing the body, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. Renward Wells. A State-Recognized Funeral for Mr. Johnson is being held today at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.




    Employees of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA), along with executives of Bahamasair and Bahamas tourism industry partners, recently spent a week in Houston conducting sales and public relations blitzes to top tour operators, travel agencies airport executives and media professionals, in that area. The team was on a mission to promote Bahamasair’s new twice weekly, non-stop services into Houston’s Bush International (IAH) Airport from Nassau. The new 737-500 series service, which commences on November 16, 2017, will depart IAH at 8:00 a. m. and arrive Nassau at 11:00 a. m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Its outbound flight from Nassau’s LPIA departs Nassau at 4:00 p. m. every Sunday and Wednesday, arriving into Houston by 7:10 p. m.

    Led by Woodrow Wilson, Sr. Sales Manager at Bahamasair and Prescott Young, Area Manager at The

    Bahamas Tourist Office (BTO) Houston, The Bahamas team comprised Bahamasair’s sales, marketing

    and operations executives, employees of the BTO Plantation and Houston offices as well as representatives from the British Colonial Hilton Resort and Majestic Tours. In addition to promoting Bahamasair’s low introductory round trip rate of $445 per person, with first bag free, the group also used the opportunity to highlight the multiple vacation destinations that are all open for business and available in The Bahamas’ 700 islands chain. Eighty of the top-producing travel agencies in nine key markets in the greater Houston and southwest Texas areas were visited. Seminars and presentations were also conducted to top tier producers and suppliers of Unique Vacations, Vacation Express, Vacations To Go, AAA Travel, Apple Vacations, Travel

    Spectrum, Modern Vacations Funjet 500 Clubs, Travel Lifestyles and Sandals as well as members of the

    Professional Travel Agents Association of North America. The team also exhibited at the Zina Garrison

    Fun Day in MacGregor Park. The consumer event attracted a wide mixture of people from government

    officials and professional athletes to senior citizens and neighborhood children.

    Millions of Houstonians were educated about The Bahamas’ destination and Bahamasair’s new non-stop

    service and introductory rate specials when the team participated in live radio broadcasts on the top two

    radio stations in Houston; Cumulus’ KRBE 104.1 FM Roula & Ryan show and Radio One’s KMJQ Majic

    102.1 FM K.G. Smooth show. Response to the live broadcasts which, were also streamed on line, was

    immediate as listeners phoned in and shared their excitement of the news, via social media. Both KRBE and KMJQ stations plan to conduct “Bahamas flyaway and come along” promotions to their listeners. KRBE’s “Bahamas come along”, which is scheduled for November 30 through December 4, 2017 at the Warwick Hotel on Paradise Island will mark the first time the station has conducted a fly away promotion to a Caribbean destination. “Our 1.7 million listeners are already fully engaged and excited about this promotion. We believe that as a result of this unprecedented trip, our listeners in Houston will become ambassadors for life for The Bahamas and we are so excited about this great opportunity to work with The Bahamas,” said Tim Gratzer, General Sales Manager at KRBE.

    “Pleased with the overall success of the sales blitz and radio promotions, “Bahamasair plans to make The

    Bahamas flyaway and come along event, an annual one for the stations,” said Mr. Wilson. KMJQ Majic 102.1 FM will conduct a Bahamas fly away sometime in February 2018. The Bahamas executives also conducted one on one interviews with Scott Vogel, Vice President of Editorial Content for Sagacity Media, publishers of Houstonia Magazine, Portland Monthly, Seattle Met and Sarasota Magazine. Houstonia, the largest magazine in Texas, will feature The Bahamas in its February (2018) issue as well as on line on its website.

    “We are extremely happy with the caliber of agents our team visited and the consistent interest and

    positive comments we received from the travel agents and tour operators about doing business with The

    Bahamas. The interest in The Bahamas and our presence in Houston have been phenomenal. People

    are excited about the multiple options available in The Bahamas and are enthusiastic about Bahamasair’s

    new non-stop service and attractive price point, which will do wonders for us. This now bridges the gap

    for Houstonians to do business with us in The Bahamas, and we could not be happier,” said Prescott

    Young, Area Manager BTO Houston. The team also met with officials from IAH Airport to finalize details, inaugural day formalities and activities for Bahamasair’s arrival from Nassau and departure from Houston, on November 15 and 16, 2017, respectively.




    Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a communication on the Ernst & Young report on BPL as previously promised.

    I intend to table the report without much comment, except to provide some guidance for colleagues and for the media. In doing so, I note that regrettably the report was leaked to one media outlet, which published a story on it without the benefit of these comments. As a result, the reputation of the leader of the opposition may have suffered an unwarranted attack, something that I sincerely regret.

    First, Sir, there are a number of BPL employees who, by virtue of their jobs had to be investigated. I am pleased to say that though their names were mentioned in the report, most of them were subsequently exonerated of any wrongdoing whatsoever. They continue to be highly valued team members at BPL. In this respect I wish to expressly thank:

    Mrs. Cecile Greene

    Ms. Ene Maura

    Ms. Garnell Sheppard

    Ms. Chrislyn Dean and

    Mr. Kevin Bowleg

    BPL values their service, and we look forward to many years of continued productivity and goodwill.

    Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the report makes an allegation in relation to the leader of the opposition. I wish to confirm that the allegation is incorrect. It is based on incomplete records at BPL, and I wish to say unequivocally that there is no evidence whatsoever that the leader of the opposition did anything

    wrong. With these comments, Sir, I wish to table Volumes 1 and 2 of the report together with a letter from Permanent Secretary Higgs together with a letter from Permanent Secretary Higgs which completely

    exonerates the leader of the opposition. I know him to be an honourable man, and would not wish to see his reputation besmirched.

    Mr. Speaker, I conclude by advising first that new procurement policies are now in place at BPL. They were desperately needed, and will be scrupulously followed. Finally Sir, there is a refreshing new culture of transparency and accountability at BPL. We intend to ensure that BPL remains a special place to work, and we look forward to employees enthusiastically buying into the new culture, and supporting the new management initiatives.




    The Honourable Mark Humes paid a courtesy call on Commander Defence Force, Commodore Tellis A. Bethel at the Defence Force Headquarters at HMBS Coral Harbour to discuss plans for the maintenance and upkeep of The Bahamas Veterans Cemetery on Infant View Road. The adoption of the military cemetery is a new project undertaken by the Defence Force and coordinated by Commander Frederick Brown and Chief Petty Officer Lincoln Rolle, along with members of the Defence Force's Military Police and Force Protection Department. Also present during the meeting were the Defence Force& British Legion-Bahamas Branch Liaison Officer, Commander Shonedel Pinder, the Defence Force representative at the British Legion, Reservist Adina Munroe, and Chief Petty Officer Lincoln Rolle and Petty Officer Dominique McPhee of

    the Military Police and Force Protection Department, and Force Chief Petty Officer Basil Miller

    of the Defence Force's Base Maintenance Team.

    Photo shows (From Left): Force Chief Petty Officer Basil Miller; Commodore Tellis Bethel; Chief Petty Officer Lincoln Rolle;The Honourable Mark Humes, Member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte; Petty Officer Dominique McPhee; Airwing Commanding Officer, Shondel Pinder;

    and Reservist Adina Munroe, 1st Assistant Secretary to British Legion-Bahamas Branch.





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