Thursday, March 19, 2020

#242NewsBahamas Newsletter Edition: March 19th 2020

I’m sick of hearing about how SICK we’re going to be…but it’s COMING.
There is nothing else to write about this week, though trust me I want to. Situations like this demonstrate the immense importance of what we do and how even our smallest decisions can impact those around us; whether we know them personally or not. Our actions will determine how our country survives not only physically but socially and financially.

Thankfully, our Government has done its best to stay on top of this pandemic from day one, and I was particularly pleased to hear the government’s plan to mitigate the economic fallout as was presented from the Ministry of Finance on PHASE ONE POLICY RESPONSE TO THE ECONOMIC FALLOUT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

Two Additional COVID-19 Cases Confirmed

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands explained that late last evening medical professionals confirmed two additional cases identified through contact tracing.
“These contact tracing investigations have revealed that household members of the COVID-19 positive patient travelled to Canada, Trinidad and Dubai -- territories with known community transmission,” Dr. Sands said as he presented his Contribution in the House of Assembly on the COVID-19/2019 Corona virus, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. 

“These household contacts have been quarantined and samples taken for testing. Other contacts, including healthcare providers, are being investigated to determine their level of exposure and risk. A total of 30 contacts of the COVID-19 positive patient have been identified.” 

The Health Minister also noted that the first confirmed person with COVID-19 in The Bahamas, a 61-year-old female resident of New Providence who does not have a relevant travel history, continues to be monitored in isolation at the Princess Margaret Hospital and is in stable, clinical condition.
DPM Turnquest: Global and Domestic Development as a
Result of COVID-19 will Affect Economic Growth in the Short Term Negatively

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest said in the best of times, the Bahamian economy would not escape the effects of a global health crisis like COVID-19. 

As he presented the Statement on the Fiscal and Economic Impact of COVID-19 in the House of Assembly, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, DPM Turnquest explained that economic growth in the short term will be negatively affected by global and domestic developments, and an overall contraction in domestic short-term economic growth is inevitable. 

He stated, “Many people are understandably afraid, but I want to reassure Bahamian families that we will get through this challenge together, healthy, stable and strong.”
The DPM stated that when faced with crisis situations, such as the Coronavirus, good and open communication and collaboration with stakeholders are important building blocks to preparing an effective and well-considered response that delivers the best results for the public at large. 

“I am indebted to industry representatives from the banking community – the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants, and other respected Bahamian economists from the University of The Bahamas and elsewhere – who responded to my invitation to provide feedback on the Ministry’s initial economic modeling.”
Nib Activates Orange Alert Stage In Covid-19 Business Continuity Plan

The National Insurance Board (NIB) has activated its Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to address potential business disruptions, which may come as a result of COVID-19. NIB has been in contact with the National Coordinating Committee to ensure that the necessary actions are consistent with the national response. 
NIB’s BCP is at the Orange Alert stage which concentrates on streamlining processes to protect the most vulnerable customers, such as the elderly, and to limit risks to staff. These changes will ensure that critical services continue to be provided, while ensuring the safety and health of our staff and customers. These measures are in addition to actions already taken to promote staff awareness and education of COVID-19 and upgrades to hygiene and cleaning regimes. 

Suspension of Face-to-Face Verification Face-to-face pension verifications will be suspended until further notice. NIB will not prioritize suspension of benefits due to non-verification. For convenience, the verification form (B.75b) is available on NIB’s website, 

Beneficiaries who are able to may submit their completed forms electronically at email or, if possible, make use of drop boxes available at NIB offices. NIB will also be using other modalities to confirm continuing eligibility as required by Regulation 13(2) of the National Insurance (Benefit and Assistance) Regulations. Additionally, the verification hotline, 502-1556, is available to answer questions.

Prime Minister Minnis: Panic Buying Not Necessary

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis appealed to Bahamians and residents to stop panic buying food and hoarding supplies in reaction to news of the COVID-19 virus.

“There is no need for it,” the Prime Minister said on Tuesday 17 March following a meeting with local wholesalers and suppliers at the Office of the Prime Minister.

“I want to assure the population that we have at least a one to three months’ supply of food on the island and shipping continues as normal.”

Prime Minister Minnis met with representatives of Super Value, A & M Foods, and local wholesale distributors, including pharmaceutical wholesalers and suppliers, on Tuesday for a briefing on the state of the country’s medicine and food stocks and other supplies.

UB Community Engages Minister on the Economy and the Environment

Nassau, THE BAHAMAS — Every economic venture has an environmental cost, Minister of the Environment and Housing Hon. Romauld Ferreira told a University of The Bahamas (UB) audience who engaged him in a conversation on Ethics, Environment and the Economy on Thursday, 12th March.

Addressing scores of students, faculty and staff in the RBC Auditorium of the Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre, Minister Ferreira said decisions to advance the country’s economy, particularly by way of proposed developments, are almost always win-lose situations. He noted that the question government leaders ponder is: do we sacrifice the needs of the one for the needs of the many, or do we sacrifice the needs of the many for the one?

“We can make these decisions, and we do,” said Minister Ferreira. “We make them in Parliament, we make them in Cabinet, we make them in the everyday course of our lives. We can make these decisions, but they do have effects. And how do we know what the right thing to do is?”
Harnessing the Benefits of the Birds and the Bees

Nassau, THE BAHAMAS - University of The Bahamas (UB) students learnt about the ‘birds and the bees’ at a recent interactive session where the focus was on food sustainability and economic empowerment.

Homegrown chicken farming and beekeeping was the focus on day two of UB’s Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences (CELS) Week. Industry experts showed students and faculty the benefits of being involved in both sectors, particularly in a small island developing state like The Bahamas.
The presentations were under the theme, “The Science of Sustainability: Fostering ‘Homegrown’ Practices in The Bahamas”.

CELS Lecturer Mr. Justin Taylor explained that homegrown chicken farming is one of the best investments Bahamians can make, especially since chicken is an ever-present feature in staple Bahamian dishes.

“Growing what you eat is empowerment,” said Mr. Taylor. “You want to know that I can grow this chicken, I can have my small business, I’m providing a food source, I’m providing good meat that is actually free of steroids and hormones and other products. And then you have good traceability, meaning that in The Bahamas we are known not to have all of these hormones and stuff, that our diet is just based on the ingredients that are here.

100 New Refrigerators donated to Grand Bahama Homeowners

Freeport, Grand Bahama – Over the past several weeks, the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation (GBDRF), the charitable arm of the Grand Bahama Port Authority Limited (GBPA), along with GBPA volunteers, have distributed brand new refrigerators to more than 100 homeowners in communities across the island - yet another step toward turning local houses into homes.

The effort is part of a wider distribution strategy organized by the GBDRF. This will, in weeks to come, see the foundation purchase and distribute other major appliances to local homeowners as well. The refrigerator donation initiative gave priority to the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, and households of single mothers with small children. It required residents to provide proof of severe flooding at their residence. Homeowners needed also to have completed the necessary mold remediation works and must have had city power restored to their homes.
Historic Property Once Part of Royal Family Goes on Market for $23 Million

By Diane Phillips

With the world’s eyes on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as they made their final rounds before voluntarily departing the rarefied air of royal family chores, parties and perks, a property that came on the market this week reminded us of the deep connection between the royals and The Bahamas.

The property is a fantasy like site at the far northern tip of North Eleuthera, remote enough to feel like an island. Called Gun Point, it was once deeded by King George VI to Lord Beaverbrook as Crown land in gratitude for his service to king and country during WW II when the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy used The Bahamas as a base for allied operations. Today, Gun Point is owned by a prominent Bahamian family with a strong stake in the suds and spirits industry.

“The patriarch who loved to boat and fish from Gun Point and enjoy the peacefulness of the place knowing it was only a 10-minute ride from the North Eleuthera Airport passed away last March. The children and grandchildren, all grown, love it but they are so busy with their own lives and businesses they do not have the time to use it sufficiently. Putting it on the market was a tough, emotional decision and if you visited you would understand why,” said Timothy Smith, listing agent. “You would be hard-pressed to find a more stunning or even comparable property anywhere in the world.”
Elbow Cay Returning to Normalcy

On September 1, Dorian reached Category 5 intensity, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 910 mb while making landfall on Elbow Cay in the Abaco chain of islands. It is the strongest known tropical system to impact the Bahamas and left a path of unprecedented destruction through the Abaco Islands and much of Grand Bahama.
Engel & Volkers advisor Paul Thompson lives on Elbow Cay and he and his wife battened down their home to ride out the storm. A little over six months after the storm, Paul is very optimistic that the island is well on its way to rebuilding and restoring the community bonds that are the heartstrings of the island heritage and culture.

“Debris throughout the Cay is mostly cleared up, 90% of the roads and verges are cleared. The island is green again from the rain which makes it all look much more inviting. I am very positive that things are looking better,” says Paul. He ads, “The overhead electrical lines have been restored and next they will install transformers then go from home to home connecting to the grid with the hope that full power will be back on in a month or two.”

As far as the island economy goes, the island is being powered by individual stand-by generators with fuel deliveries three times a week from Lighthouse Marina to the Post Office dock. “The noise from the generators is not the nicest but the generator power is a necessity to power tools and get the water pressure up,” says Paul.
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