Thursday, June 11, 2020

#242NewsBahamas Newsletter Edition: June 11th 2020

Bahamian Activist Fills Centennial Square

Dear Readers,

2020 has undoubtedly been a crazy year! After enduring months of COVID-19 home isolation, the world has now exploded with outrage over the death of George Floyd whose breath was stolen from him by police. His death has promoted a world out cry for change in how we as a world treat those of different colour and ethnicities.

It was with great admiration and pride that last Sunday one of Grand Bahama's very own, Asiyah Robinson, along with two of her friends, took the initiative to host a peaceful Protest in Victoria, Vancouver, Canada. One planned to turn outraged black voices into action. “I want you to feel committed’” said Robinson. "I’m holding you to this. If you see something, I want you to remember this moment. And if you don’t feel comfortable engaging, learn how."

DPM Turnquest Presents Fiscal Projections for The Bahamas for the 2020/21 Budget Year

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest explained that real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to decline by an unprecedented 12 percent this year -- representing the largest single year economic contraction since these statistics have been kept.

“Our economy is expected to be a lot smaller at the end of December than it was in January. That means fewer business imports, lower sales revenue for businesses, and therefore lower revenue for the Government,” DPM Turnquest said as he presented the 2020/21 Budget Debate Opening Statement in the House of Assembly, Monday, June 8, 2020.

Ministry of Education Announces July 13 as date for Beginning of National
Examinations

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Despite the closure of schools in The Bahamas due to the Corona virus pandemic, the Minister of Education, the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd, underscored that the educational system has performed an “admirable” job in ensuring that students continue to receive vital instruction.

While it does not replace face-to-face instruction in this situation, Minister Lloyd said it is difficult to argue that it wasn’t or isn’t a very “acceptable” alternative. In the midst of social media buzz regarding the announced start of national examinations, Minister Lloyd has confirmed that the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations will be carried out beginning July 13, 2020.

Minister Lloyd addressed a virtual press conference Monday morning, June 8, 2020 that was attended by MOE officials including Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary; Marcellus Taylor, Director; Julian Anderson, Deputy Director; and Seretha Clarke Undersecretary.
DOSS ‘Significantly Expands’ Storage Capacity Ahead of 2020 Season

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Officials of the Disaster Management Unit of the Department of Social Services, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development recently took possession of three, 40ft. containers that will help to “significantly expand” the Unit’s storage capacity for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

The Hurricane Season opened June 1 and will run through November 30. The three, 40ft. containers will complement the two warehouses the Department previously used to store key hurricane supplies.

Mr. Leonard Cargill, Assistant Director with responsibility for the Unit, said having the additional storage capacity is vital. “We got those containers through one of our international partners and we are very appreciative for the additional storage space those containers will provide. We are looking forward to filling them up.”

Grand Bahama Company Offers Resilient
Building Options for The Bahamas


Freeport, Bahamas - While both domestic and global construction standards have evolved over the years, traditional building may not be the best way forward with the increased strength of Category 5 storms.

In The Bahamas, a new company is shaking up the local home construction industry, providing residents across the country with accessibility to modern modular homes that are weather-resistant builds and insurance approved. Led by CEO Edward Rice, Mosaic Modular opened in Freeport, just before Hurricane Dorian hit the island.

“Having lived in Freeport for some years previously, I knew right from the outset, that it was the perfect location for us to launch this building system,” said Rice. “The Bahamas is a place that needs a sustainable solution to withstand the onslaught of wind and water more than anywhere else.”
A Personal Plea to Help Save the Oceans of The Bahamas Before it is Too Late By Mario Carey

Mario Carey is best known as a highly successful real estate broker, leader and innovator in the industry. Although he has handled more than $2.75 billion in transactions over a 30-year career, he has always carved out time to put everything else aside and pursue his lifelong passion – deep sea diving. He wrote the following piece pleading for action after watching the waters of The Bahamas degrade from alive and teeming with marine life to near desolate in many areas. He blames much of weariness of the seas and the depletion of fish, conch and crawfish stock on the lack of regulation of foreign vessels and their guests. Carey says it is urgent that a higher price be exacted for accessing Bahamian waters and controls be established to monitor what remains of the country’s coral reefs and marine life before it is too late. Where once that type of monitoring would not have been possible across 100,000 miles of open ocean, technology now allows it with the use of drones and individuals with monitoring apps. He also calls for a national buoy tie-up system to protect the fragile reefs and the life that depends upon reefs.
Reflections
One Eleuthera Hurricane Relief Program:
How It Changed One Family’s Life

The One Eleuthera Foundation (OEF) has moved from one storm to another – Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Both have created difficult economic times for The Bahamas and this NGO has been there to help elevate the burden. By June 2020, contributions and grants for the OEF Hurricane Dorian Relief (HDR) Program have amounted to $900,000 and were used for a variety of programs to help evacuees get a new start. The Foundation is preparing for a busy hurricane season with strong fundraising efforts while working through a new normal in their many partner organizations.

Considered one of the strongest storms on the planet when it struck the Northern Bahamas in September 2019, the fierceness and destruction of category 5 Hurricane Dorian is still fresh. Abaco evacuee Josette Albury-Gilbert who is a single mother was thankful for a new start in Eleuthera. She left a shelter in Nassau with her 3 of her 4 children ages 6, 12 and 14. Her eldest is 23 and is a student at the University of The Bahamas.

Celebrities, Local Companies Say ‘Thank You’ to Social Services Staff

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Award-winning singer, songwriter and producer Mr. Julien Believe, celebrity Disc Jockeys and entrepreneurs The Mighty Pencil and Dion “Da Butcher” Knowles, and entrepreneur Mr. Josh Miller surprised staff at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development and the Department of Social Services with lunch Friday (May 29).

(Physical distancing protocols and other safety measures as dictated by the Ministry of Health, were adhered to during the visit.)
Yet again, the May Run was very low key, carried out on a Friday just before the weekend total lockdown with only the run leaders involved to minimize exposure and practice social distancing. Another 50 bags delivered. We are looking forward to a relaxation of the restrictions beginning in June 2nd when church services may resume and giving easier access to shops and most businesses. With Pastor Ken and Steve off-island, Mervin & Lolita completed the Eight Mile Rock run distributing 28 bags. The photos document their dedication.

Nekemea, always in need of help. Her eldest son, Nekino remains in hospital in intensive care for the past 3 weeks. However, he is soon to be sent home and Nekemea is preparing his room and a welcome home.
Grand Bahama International Airport Resumes Domestic Flights

Management of Hutchison Ports GBAC, is pleased to announce the opening of the Grand Bahamas International Airport.

Resumption of commercial and private domestic travel begins Monday, June 8, 2020. You may contact your travel agent or airline for travel schedules.

Management advises that various new and enhanced protocols have been put in place to minimize and mitigate against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Such protocols include enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, physical distancing and the wearing of facial masks in accordance with the safety guidelines of the Ministry of Health.

The Grand Bahama International Airport will operate between the hours of 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily.
GB Disaster Relief Foundation helps Reach Out Youth Organization Feed Grand Bahamians Struggling with Unemployment Due to COVID-19

The Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation (GBDRF), the charitable arm of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA), continues to support Grand Bahama in times of need. COVID-19 has impacted all residents, including those who are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Dorian, and GBDRF has partnered with Reach Out Youth Organization (ROYO) to help feed thousands of struggling families.

ROYO, led by President Dudley Seide, is a non-profit organization that works with at-risk and inner-city youth to provide wholesome activities and help them realize their true potential. With GBDRF’s weekly donation, ROYO’s Community Centre has fed over 7,000 families over the past five weeks.
The Three Witnesses
1 John 5:6-13

In this final passage from the First Letter of John, the author spends a lot of time considering the testimony of certain witnesses. That the word “witness” or “testimony” appears nine times in these few short verses should tell us something. But what is a witness or testimony?

Many of us have a certain preconceived idea of what a testimony is in the context of the church, but that is not its original context. Just like we use the word today, it originally had to do with one who participates in a courtroom proceeding. A witness is a person who has seen or knows something and is therefore competent to give evidence concerning it, and a testimony is the evidence the witness gives.
Revenues at General Post Office Outperforms Previous Fiscal Period

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The General Post Office, which is considered a port of entry, has undergone a successful relocation exercise and has improved previous performance. During his contribution to the 2020/2021- budget debate on June 8, 2020, Minister of Transport and Local Government, the Hon. Renward Wells said that the move has been a successful one.

“It is a well-known fact that the General Post Office successfully relocated in May of 2019 to the Town Centre Mall,” he said. “In so doing, its priority agenda pursues transforming operations through technology as a fundamental first step.”

He said that despite the fact that the Department’s ambitious projections were almost immediately impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian early in the fiscal period, and most recently, from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, they have fared well.
Simplified Lending CEO Robert Pantry Suggests Bahamas Consider Prime Rate Reduction to Kickstart Economy

With the local economy predicted to shrink as much as 15% and the global economy projected to take nearly a decade to fully recover from the COVID-19 shutdown, one Bahamian financial expert is suggesting lowering the prime rate would be a surefire way to re-energize growth and investment.

Robert Pantry, founder and CEO of Simplified Lending, offered the prime rate reduction suggestion following one of several national appearances in virtual discussions about the economy in recent weeks.

His comments coincided with those recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the same day. IMF suggested that The Central Bank had wiggle room to lower the interest rate that now stands at 4%.

“There is always a delicate balance between adjusting the prime rate for an economic stimulus tool and maintaining a certain standard to protect necessary reserves,” said Pantry. 
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The Bahamas - Virtual Events

  • 17 June: Economic recovery: Streamlining “shovel ready” projects and securing financing (moderated by Simon Townend), KPMG Website
  • 24 June: Transitioning to the post pandemic world: a review of Special Purpose Organizations (SPO), KPMG Website
  • 2 July: Maintaining robust governance on cash-flow and pandemic expenditures, KPMG Website
  • 8 July: Creating a glidepath to economic recovery: attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and mitigating Supply Chain Dynamics, KPMG Website
  • 15 July: P3 Contract Reconfiguration, KPMG Website
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