Friday, May 22, 2020

#242NewsBahamas Newsletter Edition: May 21th 2020

What happened to the ease of NIB payouts?And who are the people they have supposedly paid?

Dear Readers,
At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we felt assured that all would be okay when the Prime Minister said that those who would be unemployed in tourism, restaurants, and non-essential businesses would be taken care of. Hearing that the government was going to give tourism workers $200 a week and that those laid off due to mandated closings would claim NIB benefits - made many of us feel better.

Some 7 weeks into the real thick of this pandemic, and from what we can gather from our non-scientific survey (we posted the question on Facebook) barely anyone has received money from NIB, but Tourism applicants have. From what we have been able to surmise from the comments and the feedback on NIB, those that have been paid or managed to get their staff paid knew someone who works at NIB. Sadly, our results showed that over 75% of those who applied have not received any funds. We ourselves have a laid off staff member who has not been paid, an employee’s son who has had no money and many clients’ staff who have received nothing – not even an email response.

Prime Minister Minnis: The Bahamas must make far-reaching structural changes to economy

In the aftermath of COVID-19 and Hurricane Dorian, The Bahamas must embark on broad, deep and far-reaching structural changes to the economy and the way The Bahamas does business at home and abroad, said Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis.

The Prime Minister was speaking from the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday 20 May at the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration’s Virtual Symposium.

Prime Minister Minnis said an example of structural change is the mandatory full digitization of The Bahamas at every level. “Many of the bureaucratic roadblocks to the ease of doing business must be bulldozed,” said the Prime Minister. “We must streamline the process for domestic and foreign investment in a broader range of industries.”
United States Commits 750K in Health Assistance to The Bahamas

On May 20, the U.S. Embassy announced an additional $750,000 in health assistance to The Bahamas as part of the U.S. government’s global assistance in support of COVID-19 response efforts.
The additional $750,000 in health assistance to The Bahamas will increase risk communication and community engagement, infection prevention and control, surveillance and rapid response, and strengthen case management. This assistance comes in addition to decades of U.S. government investment in The Bahamas, including nearly $143.1 million in total assistance over the past 20 years.
Through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. government’s action, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Months into fighting this pandemic at home and abroad, the United States continues to lead a global response—building on decades of leadership in life-saving health and humanitarian assistance.
Government Improves E-Government

The Government of The Bahamas has increased the use of e-platforms, particularly since the worldwide pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus.
In a statement issued by Minister of State for Grand Bahama, with oversight of Electronic Communication, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson on Tuesday, May 19, said, “This Government has tremendously increased the use of E-Government platforms and Initiatives since coming to office and particularly in response to COVID-19. We have made a firm commitment to embarking upon the latest technology taking into account our country’s unique situation.”

Referencing comments made by Former Attorney General, Allyson Maynard Gibson, Minister Thompson noted, “our Government is moving forward with implementing the latest in technology with respect to an electronic ID. While not the latest technology, we are also moving forward with respect to incorporating the capabilities of the existing NIB card.
Lend a Hand Bahamas Receives $100,000 Donation from the Kate & Justin Rose Foundation to support COVID-19 Food Relief Efforts in Nassau, Bahamas

 Lend a Hand Bahamas, a Bahamian nonprofit organization, is delighted to announce a charitable contribution of $100,000 from the Kate & Justin Rose Foundation. This donation will enhance vital food security in the community of Adelaide in Nassau, Bahamas for the next 10 weeks. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt in the Bahamas. As a result, many companies have had to lay off employees and even close due to a complete decline in tourism.

The economic devastation to other parts of the country resulting from Hurricane Dorian this past fall combined with heavy impacts of COVID-19 has greatly affected the Bahamas as the unemployment rate could soon hit 30 percent with 25,000+ individuals currently laid off.
Pelican Bay Donates Happily to Rand Memorial Hospital

Freeport, Bahamas – The Rand Memorial Hospital was among the many essential services which were severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian’s passing. To date, challenges persist as hardworking healthcare professionals work tirelessly to mitigate the fallout from COVID-19 in addition to Dorian related issues as well. Grand Bahama’s Happiest Hotel, Pelican Bay, delivered to the hospital last week, boxes of fresh linens including sheets, blankets, and pillows which are always in high demand.

“With very low occupancy at Pelican Bay, we’ve been using this time to obviously make the necessary repairs and also to go through our inventory and take stock of what we have,” explained Pelican Bay’s General Manager, Magnus Alnebeck. “In doing so, we found that we had an overstock of some items which we thought could be put to better use in our health care system, especially with the impact of their facilities.” 35 boxes of linens, pillows, blankets, and other items were hand-delivered to staff at the Rand hospital by Darion Martin, Pelican Bay’s Operations assistant, and Elvis Sanon who is part of the property’s maintenance team. 
Rights Bahamas: Vile hate crime must be prosecuted

Rights group condemns beating of GB woman, shameful reaction on social media
Rights Bahamas is shocked and appalled by the violent and despicable hate crime committed in Grand Bahama this week, when an 18-year-old woman was attacked and savagely beaten by three men because of her sexual orientation.
We condemn the vile act in the strongest of terms and demand that the perpetrators, who are easily identifiable in a video of the incident being circulated on social media, be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Law enforcement must be committed to protecting the most vulnerable among us. 

Rights Bahamas also cries shame on the members of the public who have sought to demean and make fun of the victim on social media, a disgusting display of intolerance and hatred that is perhaps more concerning than the incident itself. What could be funny about a grown man repeatedly smashing a piece of wood into the back of a young woman’s head while his friends punch and slap her? What does it say about us as a people that so many consider this a source of humour and entertainment? What are we to think when so many of the culprits are fellow women, who should be standing together in solidarity to oppose the many injustices faced in common as members of an oppressed gender in this society?
GBDRF teams up with Urban Renewal and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. to provide food to needy families across Grand Bahama. 

Together with its valued partners, the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation (GBDRF), the charitable arm of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA), delivered food to 200 families in communities on Grand Bahama this past Wednesday, May 13th. 

For this venture, the GBDRF partnered with Urban Renewal Grand Bahama, whose mission is to provide information, training resources, and programmes that will restore, revitalize and redevelop our communities, and with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, who works to enhance the quality of life for women and their families through community service, civil and social action. Together, the three partners sourced, provided, packaged and delivered much-needed food to Grand Bahama families. 
“Under the umbrella of the GBPA, the Foundation’s purpose is to provide for post-hurricane relief efforts,” said Rupert Hayward, Director at GBDRF. “Families in many storm-stricken communities continue to recover from Hurricane Dorian’s massive impacts.

GBDRF distributes beds to needy families across Grand Bahama 

The Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation (GBDRF), the charitable arm of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA), sourced over 100 new beds for distribution to communities across the island. Pastor Eddie Victor, an active GBDRF volunteer since inception, organized this initiative and worked with teams to ensure that beds were delivered to those families still challenged by recovery from Hurricane Dorian, which decimated communities across Grand Bahama last September. 

“The quality of an individual’s sleep and rest is fundamental to health and wellness, especially during this time of COVID-19. And this generous donation of beds by the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation is helping to ensure the health of Grand Bahamians” said Pastor Victor. “To date, we have delivered beds to ninety families throughout Grand Bahama, and I can tell you that people are very grateful for the gesture.”
Remarks: Hon. Elsworth N. Johnson Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration

I would like to start by thanking my colleague Ministers for joining us today. I want to assure industry that as it relates to any issues that may impact our jurisdiction’s brand, we are taking a whole-of-government approach. We are working together.
I also echo the Prime Minister’s sentiments and commend the financial services sector for remaining open for business, responsibly. Years of technological innovation in the industry has made it resilient, even given the challenges that this global pandemic has presented.
At a time when so much of our daily activities are focused on creating distance to protect ourselves and our community from the spread of COVID-19, this Ministry is looking at redoubling our efforts and deepening our engagement.
In the past, this might have meant industry breakfasts and in-person stakeholder meetings. However, the current crisis means that we cannot go back to business as usual. Virtual events like the one we are participating in now are a great way to connect, even across borders. More than 350 people RSVPed for today’s virtual event. This digital platform facilitated that kind of commitment from a broad cross-section of industry stakeholders.
Social Services’ ITC Unit Conducts Staff Training Workshop

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Technical experts from the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development’s Information, Technology and Communications (ITC) Unit recently hosted a training workshop for New Providence staff.

Additional training will take place for staff in Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Family Islands.

Headed by Deputy Director, Ms. Judy L. Simmons, the ITC Unit will be responsible for leading the digitization and modernization process underway at the Ministry and its various Departments and Divisions, while expanding the Ministry’s communications reach.

Staff from across the Ministry, including the Department of Social Services, the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, the Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services and Urban Renewal, in addition to personnel from the Secretariat of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, participated in the training that was conducted by Deputy-Director Simmons. Ms. Simmons was assisted by Miss Simone Bridgewater, Gender Officer in the Department of Gender and Family Affairs and Mrs. Jaimie Humes, Case Aide, Department of Social Services.

ART From The Heart

The Humane Society of Grand Bahama (HSGB) was devastated last September by Hurricane Dorian. After months and months of repairs and replacing literally every piece of equipment including vehicles, we like the rest of the world were impacted by the effects of the COVID19 pandemic. 

Since, Dorian, we've had serious funding cuts, and previous revenue streams have dried. up. An annual stipend was allocated for us (finally!) by the Bahamas Government three years ago, however we never received these allocations, and to date, have received no replies or reasons as to why not. 

Yet the demand for our services and the number of animals in need has only increased in these troubling economic times. How to raise funds when you can't hold events and when so many have also been negatively impacted? 
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Grand Bahama resident Kay Hardy has a Youtube page where she uploads videos of herself reading stories for young children. What a great way to help pass the time while your kids are home from school.
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