The Government of The Bahamas must increase its commitment to encourage and support the development of home-grown businesses in tandem with direct foreign investment, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Alexander Minnis said Thursday (June 15, 2017). Prime Minister Minnis said a key economic objective of his Government is the development of an incentive framework for entrepreneurship. This framework will facilitate local and international access to capital; the formation of joint ventures among private interests; improvement of business advisory and cultivation of tools to stimulate Bahamian entrepreneurship in tourism. The Minnis Administration will also implement a plan that will achieve the long, sought after goal of creating linkages between agriculture and tourism to “effect significant reduction in the food import bill of hotels and restaurants.”That Plan will enable the Bahamas Agricultural Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) to focus efforts on the production of select, quality products for both local and export markets.

    The Minnis Administration will also privatize the Produce Exchange and will provide land, supplies, equipment and business services to Bahamian farmers to support the industry. Tax incentives and concessions will be introduced to encourage Bahamian farmers and farming cooperatives throughout the country to promote sustained production and packaging initiatives and to ensure the continuous supply of quality products. “We must boost local ownership in the tourism industry to promote sustainability and improve the livelihoods of Bahamians,” Dr. Minnis said during an address at the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s Board of Directors and Membership Meeting. “By example, are there Bahamians interested in providing airline services to The Bahamas? What about Bahamians who may be able to design computer software for the many aspects of the tourism product? “We must think boldly and widely about how Bahamians can own, or be involved in, the multiple dimensions of tourism,” Prime Minister Minnis added.

    The Prime Minister said tourism is the platform from which the country can boost and launch a network of inter-related businesses. “Your organization encompasses a myriad of products including multinational resorts, boutique hotels and fishing lodges, water sports operations and ground transportation companies. As diverse as you are, you all share the common goal of increasing your bottom line and growing your businesses. “This then, must be one of the driving forces behind the master strategic plan which – in collaboration with the private sector – my Administration will roll out during this term in office. “The Bahamas has always been a country that has welcomed foreign investment, but the experience of Baha Mar has taught us a great lesson.”Prime Minister Minnis said a common lament facing the country is that its economy is not diversified enough. “We are confronted with the challenge of growing an economy that has been stagnant for several years. We are in a climate of unprecedented competition in the global and regional marketplace,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “While diversification is needed, there is extraordinary diversification that can still be gained within tourism,” Prime Minister Minnis added.

    The Prime Minister said his Administration has a number of plans designed to drive the economy through tourism-related initiatives.Among them, is the introduction of legislation to make it attractive for international filmmakers to produce cinematic productions at a fraction of the cost comparable to other leading offshore film locations. Prime Minister Minnis said there are also new hospitality products such as vacation rental homes “which are today operating outside of the regulatory environment in our country.” “Such products will have to be registered with the Ministry of Tourism and appropriate taxation will be applied to level the playing field and ensure their contribution to the public purse,” the Prime Minister continued, “through registration, we can ensure that they meet our standards for safety and quality.” The Prime Minister said another critical success factor in tourism is the more affordable delivery of goods and services, especially in the areas of food production, distribution and service.




    The Government of The Bahamas will implement a number of strategies designed to further “monetize the number of cruise ship passengers traveling to The Bahamas” by taking greater advantage of the country’s tremendous heritage tourism potential. This will involve the restoration and maintenance of historic sites and the designation of iconic locations throughout The Bahamas including heritage sites such as the Clifton Heritage National Park in New Providence, Mount Alvernia in Cat Island, the Columbus Monument in San Salvador and plantation ruins on other Family Islands. The Government of The Bahamas is also committed to completing the National Museum of The Bahamas not only for the benefit of Bahamians, but also as a heritage experience for tourists. The Minnis Administration will also build a Native Food Market Over-the-Hill that will feature Bahamian art and is expected to be a “major economic empowerment and revitalization project.” The Native Food Market will boast a variety of Bahamian foods and products for sale, from ice cream to potato and cassava breads, tamarind sauces, local teas and other Bahamian treats.

    The ice cream sold at the Native Food Market is expected be made from tasty Bahamian fruits such as mango, soursop, sugar apple and coconut. “A Native Food Market will welcome scores of Bahamians and tourists alike,” Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said as he laid out his Administration’s objectives for the economic empowerment and revitalization project to the tourism stakeholders gathered at the Hilton Hotel. “It will provide business opportunities and allow many Bahamians to sell their goods and products. Just as a previous FNM Administration created Fish Fry and a new Straw Market, my Administration will build a Native Food Market Over-the-Hill. Many cities and countries around the world boast native food markets.”

    Prime Minister Minnis said the completion of the National Museum of The Bahamas will also reap benefits and dividends for the country. “Cruise ship passengers throughout the world visit museums,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “Imagine if New Providence can provide more of these experiences? “We are nowhere near monetizing the number of cruise ship passengers we have coming to The Bahamas. We can do so through heritage experiences.”

    Addressing the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s (BHTA) Board of Directors and Membership Meeting, June 15, 2017 at the British Colonial Hilton, Prime Minister Minnis said twenty-first century travelers are seeking more than the proverbial sun, sand and sea experiences. “They travel in search of unique and authentic experiences.” Prime Minister Minnis said The Bahamas has a rich culture that can provide those experiences and should be tapped into to generate additional tourism revenue. “Ours is a richly textured culture. Our history, music, food, dance, art, craft and our folkways are distinctly different. We must fully capitalize on our culture and heritage to add a more vibrant visitor experience. “The formation of joint ventures will be a central approach to the execution of projects in this Administration, including the restoration and maintenance of historic sites and the designation of iconic locations,” Prime Minister Minnis said.“Imagine, also, if there was a Maritime Museum located at the Lowell J. Mortimer Maritime Institute, with a virtual reality component and replicas of maritime vessels such as sloops and a scaled-down version of a pirate ship? I understand that the Institute is interested in creating such a museum.”

    The Prime Minister said his Administration will also facilitate the development of heritage and eco-tours throughout The Bahamas, including through the usage of signage. “I note the famous Blue Plaque – an oval plaque seen on numerous buildings throughout the United Kingdom. I suggest we develop the Aqua Plaque, which can be used as a heritage marker in The Bahamas. Designer Carla Whittingham (a Bahamian) has already designed a prototype which is cast in appropriate material for our climate.” The Blue Plaque is a permanent sign installed in public places in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker. Prime Minister Minnis said the Aqua Plaque should be utilized with other signage to note the significance of the heritage site in question and to recall noted Bahamians associated with that site. “I am herby directing the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Tourism to collaborate on making this a reality as soon as possible,” Prime Minister Minnis added.




    Minister of State the Hon. Marvin Dames said, during his Contribution on the 2017/2018 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly, on June 12, 2017 that his Government intends to review the recruitment process of all law enforcement agencies. "There have been too many reports coming to my desk from members of the public -- some family members and others, of young persons who have been waiting for many years without any feedback on whether they were successful or not," Minister Dames said. "As a matter of fact, there are some persons who have mentioned to me that they are aware of others who had applied only recently and have been accepted into these organizations." Minister Dames pointed out that there was a view that the recruitment process in the Police Force, and other departments, are driven by politics and nepotism. Real or perceived, he said, there is a need for the Government to bring about a greater level of transparency to that process. "We are going to ensure that only the best and brightest, and most deserving Bahamians are recruited and afforded the opportunity to become a part of the law enforcement family," Minister Dames said.

    When speakng about education and training, Minister Dames said in the dynamic and constantly changing field of law enforcement, training and education are essential."During this budget year, we will develop a modern training schedule for all law enforcement agencies which will have as its focus the latest crime fighting and investigative techniques, multi-agency approaches, customer service, management and leadership training, Minister Dames said. "We will explore the opportunities to partner with the University of The Bahamas to help us to develop our junior and senior level law enforcement managers in the areas of management and leadership." To foster greater camaraderie and efficiency, Minister Dames said his Government will seek to invest in joint training exercises across The Bahamas' law enforcement agencies to improve readiness and synergy."We will also take full advantage of training opportunities offered by our regional and international partners," Minister Dames said. "We will also strengthen in-service training at the Police Training College throughout the rank and file -- which we left in place in 2002 -- to keep pace with international standards of law enforcement today."




    The Government of The Bahamas will move swiftly to clean up corrupt practices in government. “Corruption has cost The Bahamas untold, hundreds of millions of dollars or more over the decades,” Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Alexander Minnis said Wednesday. “Under the previous Administration, there were constant complaints about having to see certain people in order to get a proposal reviewed or approved. “I have previously noted the measures we will take to respond to corrupt practices in Government,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “Investors should not have the cost of doing business increased by certain officials looking for something. Times have changed. There is a new Sheriff in town.”

    Prime Minister Minnis said good governance enhances credibility, stability and reliability, all of which are important to business, economic growth and investor confidence. “My Administration is committed to transparency, openness ad accountability.” Addressing the Opening Session of the National Conclave of Chambers of Commerce in The Bahamas, at Baha Mar Resort, Prime Minister Minnis said the Government must, and will, ensure that rules are clear and transparent. “Everyone must understand the rules which must be equally applied to all businesses. The service standards and rules must be published. We need clear guidelines established for government processes in terms of requirements and processing times.” The Prime Minister said his Administration will streamline the government processes in order to simplify procedures and ensure timeline responses.




    The Government of The Bahamas will introduce a “Decision Timeline” that will inform applicants and investors when they should receive a response on a given matter, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said Wednesday. The move will address concerns by investors and other businesspersons regarding the long length of time it has taken to receive a response from the Government of The Bahamas on various applications and proposals in the past. Prime Minister Minnis said an Advanced Tracking System will also be put in place to identify the bottlenecks and roadblocks in the system. Relevant agencies will be monitored to see how well, or how poorly, they are meeting or missing their deadlines. The Prime Minister said the amalgamation of Immigration, Financial Services and Trade and Industry into one ministry was done for a reason. “This should help with the ease of doing business for potential investors,” Prime Minister Minnis said.

    Addressing the National Conclave of Chambers of Commerce In The Bahamas – hosted by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, June 14, 2017 at Baha Mar resort – Prime Minister Minnis told the story of how a young Bahamian entrepreneur approached the previous Administration for Crown Land to develop a project “that would have put more money into the economy and employ a good number of Bahamians.” “After the last government ran him around for years, he had to end up buying the property and his foreign partner told him that he, the partner, believed more in him than his own government.”

    Prime Minister Minnis said, in the past, some foreign investors have left the country, fed up at the time it took various Cabinet Ministers or government offices to respond. “Because time is money, the amount of time it has taken The Bahamas to respond to various investors, has likely cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars at a minimum,” Prime Minister Minnis added.

    The Prime Minister said slow response times from the Department of Immigration in the past, has also left a sour taste in the mouths of investors. To combat this issue, Dr. Minnis has advised the Minister of Immigration, as a matter of urgency, to reduce the time it takes for an application or renewal to be processed to ensure more ready responses from the Department of Immigration. The Prime Minister said the business license process will also be shortened. “The business license process takes too long and must be shortened. The inertia in the process must be removed,” Prime Minister Minnis said. Prime Minister Minnis said his government believes that establishing a “One Stop Shop” for doing business with the Government is a practical solution. “We will be developing a ‘one window to government services’ strategy going forward. This will require government departments working across silos and utilizing appropriate technology within government departments to integrate systems and databases.”

    The Prime Minister said his Administration will also remove “unnecessary double approval regimes” which should also help to reduce long timelines.“After the Securities Commission approves certain licenses by a foreign entity or individual, why must BIA (Bahamas Investment Authority) have to give another approval?” Prime Minister Minnis asked. “We will review this process.” Prime Minister Minnis said his Administration is committed to instituting a reform and modernization agenda for The Bahamas. “Having been in business for many years, I understand the challenges. Let us work together to address these challenges as we embrace the many opportunities for economic growth and development.”




    The Government of The Bahamas will introduce investment incentives for new and existing Bahamian businesses offering products and services related to key sectors of the Bahamian economy. These include areas such as renewable energy, the cultural industries, export sectors, agriculture and fisheries and the manufacturing of Bahamian souvenirs. The Government will also work to ensure that frameworks exist so that Bahamian firms have greater access to capital, through new and innovative financial products and markets. Addressing the National Conclave of Chambers of Commerce In The Bahamas – hosted by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, June 14, 2017 at Baha Mar resort, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said economic growth, job-creation and wealth-creation for Bahamians are three of the leading priorities of the Minnis Administration. Prime Minister Minnis used the energy sector as an example of how the Administration’s new ideas will be beneficial to Bahamian businesses, Bahamian citizens, business development and foreign investment. “My Government believes that providing incentives, particularly to private companies offering products and services in the renewable energy sector, will reduce the cost of energy in the country,” the Prime Minister said. “This will reduce the cost of doing business in The Bahamas. “These incentives, coupled with promoting energy conservation and ensuring that Bahamas Power and Light has the infrastructure needed to function, is critical for business development.”

    The Prime Minister said his Administration will also address the ease with which businesses can access banking facilities in the country, and will encourage financial institutions to help the small business sector with financial products aimed at Bahamian businesses. “We must ensure that frameworks exist so that Bahamian firms have greater access to capital through new and innovative financial products and markets.” Prime Minister Minnis said a signature programme of the Government will be the introduction of an “ambitious initiative” to develop a new generation of young entrepreneurs. “I will call on a number of you in launching this programme that is dear to my heart,” Prime Minister Minis said. The Prime Minister said his Government will also introduce mechanisms that will encourage greater national savings. “There is a direct relationship between savings and investments,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “Countries that save have more funds to invest. This is one factor in the economic growth success of many countries in Asia. “The Bahamas has traditionally had low levels of savings. We have relied on foreign savings in the form of Foreign Direct Investment to fund large projects. Strong growth in national savings will help facilitate an increase in locally financed investments. “It is therefore crucial that we take steps to improve our national savings performance through increasing household savings, and increasing public savings in order to promote sustainable economic growth. “Of course, Foreign Direct Investment remains essential for The Bahamas. My Government will therefore ensure that we attract high quality FDI which is aligned to our national development priorities and creates beneficial linkages with the local economy,” he stated.




    During his Contribution on the 2017/2018 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly on June 12, 2017 Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames said that, consistent with his Government’s policy regarding increased visibility, policing of hotspots, targeting of prolific offenders and zero tolerance -- on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, he visited Police Headquarters and met with the Commissioner of Police and his senior crime team to review short-term strategies to address "the immediate crime problem we face throughout our county today." "The reason for this meeting was to get a clear understanding from the Royal Bahamas Police Force as to how they intend to mitigate the high incidence of violent crime in New Providence," Minister Dames explained. "As a result, I was informed that with immediate effect, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) will introduce a strategy-driven patrol initiative, where it will utilize existing and new technology to identify crime trends and shifting patterns on a sustained basis to direct its patrols."

    Minister Dames noted that it means however, that the success or failure of such strategy will fall within the scope of the RBPF. "'It is the People’s Time' and the people are no longer interested in the blame game," he said. "All they are interested in is that those who are being paid to fix the crime problem, fix it."

    Minister Dames said that his Government is fully aware that it will take more than just the police for us to significantly reduce crime levels in the country. However, his Government is cognizant of the fact that the police is that agency of government that stands on the front line, and that with improved strategies and better use of resources, they can make "tremendous inroads." He noted that he continues to receive complaints from members of the public that whenever they call a police station for police service, they are oftentimes told that either there is no vehicle or that there are not sufficient officers in the station to respond to their complaint."Our government has indicated that it will undertake a comprehensive manpower audit to determine the most effective establishment of the Royal Bahamas Police Force," he said. "We need to determine, as a matter of urgency, what is required in the way of human resources to effectively operate a police station in the Commonwealth in The Bahamas. "At present, we are unable to say what the current numbers of the Force should be, from an evidence-based position," he added. "If we are going to deliver professional and uninterrupted policing services throughout our nation, we must first determine 1) whether we have the adequate numbers of officers to provide the service to our customers; and 2) if yes, then where are they and are they being utilized to perform the tasks that they have been mandated to perform."

    Minister Dames said that his Ministry is going to see to it that the nation's law enforcement officers are performing law enforcement duties. "To this end, we will explore civilianizing those areas of the Force that do not require police officers, as most modern police forces around the world have been doing for many years," he said. "This is also what an FNM Government introduced back in 2000. We will do the same for other areas of law enforcement, as well."




    Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames said, on June 12, 2017, that the gesture displayed that day by the donation of laptops by Paul Smith and his company, Electro Telecom Limited, will nurture the social development of children, in much the same way "water nourishes a young plant". "I would like to thank Mr. Smith and the Electro Telecom team for your valuable contribution to the youth of this nation," Minister Dames said at "The Sky is the Limit" -- a presentation of laptops to the most-improved students affected by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, held at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre. "You have made an investment that will encourage the students here today and those students who are watching," Minister Dames added. "Today, represents positive reinforcement for students who excel in the classroom and those who continue to make marked improvements. Among those present for the event were Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Communication in the Office of the Prime Minister Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, Permanent Secretary Carl Smith, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Dean and President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers Belinda Wilson.

    Minister Dames pointed out that Mr. Pinder and his company's initiative that day was not a new one, having contributed to similar programs since 2005. For the past 12 years you have encouraged the children of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to reach for greatness," Minister Dames stated. "You have motivated the children of Grand Bahama, North and Central Andros, adversely affected by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, to reignite their passion for learning and not to become disheartened. "You have also inspired the children from the 11 schools negatively impacted by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 -- the children on Long Island, Acklins, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Mayaguana and Crooked Island continued to pursue excellence and become all they can be, despite the setbacks."

    Minister Dames said that the gift of encouragement is the gift that "keeps on giving". Even when the electronic devices become outmoded, he added, the kindness shown will always be remembered. Minister Dames pointed out that there are only two kinds of people in the world -- the givers and the receivers -- and the seeds of kindness and encouragement displayed that day at that event were remarkable. "I am certain that when these students today are fully grown, the seeds of kindness sown will spring forth and produce another bountiful harvest of givers. The giver today can very well become the receiver tomorrow," he said.

    "Mr. Smith, we appreciate your donation today and, on behalf of the Government and people of The Bahamas we say thank you for your generosity over the past several years," Minister Dames added. He then especially thanked Mr. Smith for the role he was playing in creating a better future for Bahamian youth. "How we treat our youth today will impact the quality of life for these children," Minister Dames said.

    The donation that day of laptops to 24 "deserving students" was a reinforcement of some of the right characteristics wanted for enhancement in Bahamian youth -- namely preparation, performance and perseverance, Minister Dames pointed out. "Such celebrations place value on the dogged determination of those in pursuit of excellence," he said. "You are receiving gifts today as a testament of your hard work and determination. "Minister Dames encouraged the students to continue to be a role model for children around the Bahamas. "The hurricanes came with its devastation and you and your families were left to pick up the pieces," he said. "Your lives were by no measure normal for quite some time." "Even in the face of adversity you were determined to continue with your studies and excelled in school," he added. "You could have given up on school and become inattentive to your grades, but you did no such thing. "You are indeed role models for students everywhere in The Bahamas." Minister Dames went further to congratulate the students on their achievements and encouraged them to continue to excel. "Mr. Smith once again thank you for your kind generosity to the children of The Bahamas," Minister Dames said. "I would like to encourage you to make this your lasting legacy. Minister Dames also said a special thanks to the teachers present because, he said, without their efforts, the children may not have been able to press on in their education, and achieve as much as they had. "May God continue to bless you and your business, Mr. Smith, and may God continue to bless The Bahamas," he added.




    Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture the Hon. Michael Pintard said the Junior Junkanoo programme is very important because it is the cultivation ground and feeder system for Senior Junkanoo. He noted it nurtured skills of research, planning, organizing, critical thinking, problem solving and role-playing, and stimulated the development of creativity.“It impacts the young mind in positive ways adding to school spirit, enhancing self pride, building self-esteem and contributing to the overall patriotism of the young Bahamian,” Minister Pintard said during the 2016 Junior Junkanoo Awards Presentation at the Ministry, Thursday, June 8, 2017. Minister Pintard described the 2016 Junior Junkanoo Parade as a success with a total of 15 schools from the pre-school level to senior high school level participating.

    He said, “Unfortunately, after Hurricane Matthew some of the schools who usually participated were unable to due to the damage they sustained. North Andros High School in particular was completely devastated and had to relocate into a community church.” The Culture Minister thanked the schools, teachers and community partners who participate and assist the students each year, as well as Corporate Partner Sol Bahamas, which has worked with the Ministry for the past 28 years.

    Minister Pintard said, “As Junkanoo evolves into a viable way of life where persons will be able to make a living year-round from their honed Junkanoo skills and talents, we as a collective Bahamian people must do our best to ensure that the development of this tradition continues so that future generations will be deeply rooted in our Bahamian culture.”




    Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis on Saturday applauded the principals, management and staff of Bahamas Striping Group of Companies for being a beacon for other potential young Bahamian entrepreneurs. “In all senses of the word BSGC, its Principals and staff make for an outstanding Bahamian enterprise,” Dr. Minnis added. Addressing the 7th Anniversary Celebrations of the Bahamas Striping Group of Companies, Prime Minister Minnis said he “particularly chose” to call the Bahamian company an enterprise as enterprise refers to taking initiative, showing imagination, creativity and resourcefulness and that enterprise is about turning ideas into reality.“I commend you that your growth strategy includes additional investment ideas for The Bahamas and the Caribbean,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “You are an example of extraordinary enterprise and initiative.” Founded in 2010 by a then 23-year-old Atario Mitchell – President and Founder of Bahamas Striping Group of Companies -- with a $5,000 grant from the Self-Starter Programme launched during the third Hubert Ingraham Administration, the company has made significant strides over the past seven years later, blossoming into a multi-million dollar operation thanks to the tenacity of its principals, management team and staff.

    The company boasts of being “one of the fastest-growing Group of Companies” in The Bahamas. Its other Principals are Dominic Sturrup, Senior Vice-President of Business Development and Dr. Allen Albury, Managing Director. “What we celebrate this evening is not only the success of this company. We also celebrate hope for the future and we celebrate the talents and possibilities of our young people,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “The mustard seed for this enterprise began in the minds of its Principals, especially its then 23-year-old President and Founder Atario Mitchell. The mustard seeds of this outstanding company were also nurtured by the late Charles Maynard” (State Minister in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture at the time), Prime Minister Minnis said.

    BSGC now comprises Bahamas Striping, Airport Maintenance Services, Caribbean Pavement Solutions and Bahamas Theme Photography. “There are many outstanding qualities of Atario and his management team and BSGC,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “They are deeply committed to employing the residents of the communities in which they work, including the Family Islands.” Prime Minister Minnis further commended the company for their commitment to the training and empowerment of young, Bahamian men and women, which he said is “a cornerstone” of the company’s corporate culture. “Allow me to recall what Atario said in developing the headquarters of BSGC. He noted at the time: ‘This new head office and manufacturing plant will consist of a state-of-the-art classroom where our staff will be taught and trained in all aspects of road striping.’ “Atario also said: ‘My vision for our Head Office in Nassau is to bring in young men that seek opportunity from the Family Islands to train them in road striping, maintenance and manufacturing and have them return to their island to make their roads safer and properly maintain them.’ “Indeed, you have again demonstrated your commitment to social responsibility,” Prime Minister Minnis added.






The Youth Zone

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