• FAKE REPORT ON SOCIAL MEDIA CONCERNING IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT

    We have become aware of a fake report circulating on social media which purports to communicate certain new rules related to Immigration Enforcement. Among its claims are that all Bahamians must now produce their Bahamian e-Passport upon demand; that foreigners must be able to produce passports with an entry stamp; and that spousal permits and residency certificates of foreign nationals will also be compulsorily examined. The message claims that accordingly, legal residents are being asked to have the relevant documents on their person at all times and that anyone who fails to comply be detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

    The message is totally false. No new rules related to Immigration Enforcement have been issued: The public is assured that the Department of Immigration continues to reply on the Immigration Act to govern all of its operations. It is unfortunate that irresponsible individuals, under the cloak of anonymity, have sought to confuse and mislead the public. Nevertheless, the Department of Immigration remains committed its mandate to regulate the movement of people across the borders of The Bahamas through the collaborative efforts of relevant government and private sector agencies both nationally and internationally.

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  • GOVERNMENT SUCCESSFUL AT ISSUING A BENCHMARK US$750 MILLION BOND ISSUE

    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest gave details in the House of Assembly of the Government’s recent success at issuing a benchmark US$750 million bond issue, which has been opened to the markets and priced, and is expected to close on November 21, 2017. He made the statement on Wednesday, November 15, 2017. DPM Turnquest also took the time to set the record straight in response to numerous reports in the Press and social media about the transaction, which characterised it as “lacking in transparency and fiscal prudence.” “Nothing could be further from the truth. There was absolutely nothing devious, surreptitious or imprudent about this transaction or the manner in which it was handled. There are certain ways these transactions are handled in the international market, and we are appropriately guided by our investors in this regard,” he told the Members of Parliament. DPM Turnquest explained that all of the Government’s financing activities are conducted within the constraints of its approved borrowing authorities, and shaped and informed by pragmatic debt management strategies. “These strategies, for example, take into consideration the size and currency composition of the Government’s financing requirements; the identification, analysis and preferences of potential funding sources—whether it is best to source the debt in domestic or foreign currency; and, of course, with due consideration to market liquidity, cost and risk factors. “To be sure, such analysis and evaluation requires interaction with other agencies—especially our bankers, and most certainly the Central Bank. As is customary, we collaborate very closely with the Central Bank, which manages the issuance of government paper in the domestic market, for advice on domestic liquidity conditions—how much excess loanable funds are in the system, and what is the appetite of the main investors in government paper—the banks and institutional investors (pension funds and the insurance companies) to increasing their holdings.”

    He said these factors, including foreign reserves considerations, not only influence the timing and size of potential issues, but also determine decisions on whether borrowings are undertaken in domestic or foreign currency. Such decisions involve serious and considered deliberations by the Government in managing the country’s debt. The DPM noted that during the 2017/18 Budget Communication, two borrowing resolutions were approved by the House. The first covered the additional funding approval of $400 million to settle the outstanding arrears for FY2016/17 and the second was in respect of FY2017/18, and provided for financing to cover the overall budget deficit, estimated at $322.3 million, and refinancing/debt repayment obligations, which are now projected at $600.2 million. He said, “Therefore, while the total borrowing envelope under these two approved resolutions totaled approximately $1,322.7 million, the increment to the outstanding debt was and remains $722.3 million, as the $600.2 million in refinancing/debt repayment would have a neutral impact on debt levels.” DPM Turnquest also noted that it is instructive to mention, that, at the beginning of each Fiscal Year, one of the first things that the Government sets out to do, through its Treasury Department, is to develop monthly cash flow projections—based on how it perceives the evolution of revenue performance and the timing of its outlays. “These projections are calibrated, on an ongoing basis, to ensure that there are sufficient funds available to meet the Government’s budgetary requirements, as and when needed. “It is now common knowledge that there were pressing funding needs at the end of the past fiscal year and the outset of the current period, which placed an urgent requirement on policymakers to identify immediate funding sources to meet these obligations.”

    He said after an evaluation of the funding options, the Government moved expeditiously to source several short-term bridging facilities, which included US Dollar bank credits ($450 million) and domestic treasury bills and bank advances ($300 million). “I want to emphasize that these facilities were always contemplated to be short-term in nature, with a subsequent “terming out”, i.e., lengthening of the maturities to achieve a more favourable debt servicing profile. And having considered conditions in the domestic market, and the number of significant rollovers contemplated, the intention was to explore the possibility of rolling up these short-term credits into an international bond issue.” The bonds, characterized as a 10-Year weighted average life bond, was priced at a coupon or interest rate of 6.00 per cent, which is some 250 basis points above the pricing obtained in the Government’s last bond issuance in 2014 when it enjoyed investment grade credit status. It is to be repaid in three equal annual installments, commencing on November 21, 2026, and with a final maturity on November 21, 2028. The 6.00 per cent yield is equivalent to a spread of 362.1 basis points above the US Treasury’s 10-year benchmark bond. The Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and RBC Capital Markets, LLC. managed the offer as joint book runners.

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  • BAHAMAS PRESS CLUB PAYS COURTESY CALL ON THE GOVERNOR GENERAL

    The Bahamas Press Club paid a courtesy call on Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling at Government House on Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Pictured from left are: Anthony Newbold, Former President of the Club, and Press Secretary/Office of the Prime Minister; Lindsay Thompson, Secretary; Gena Gibbs, Member; Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling; Anthony Capron, President; Deandre Williamson, Member; and Vincent Vaughn, Treasurer.

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  • MINISTER PINTARD GIVES REPORT ON COMMONWEALTH YOUTH MINISTERS' MEETING

    Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture the Hon. Michael Pintard said in the House of Assembly, on November 15, 2017, that shortly after his appointment as Minister responsible for Youth Affairs, he received an invitation by the Commonwealth Secretariat to attend the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers’ Meeting, held in Kampala, Uganda. “This invitation permitted me along with members of my delegation Mr. Darron Turnquest, Director of Youth Affairs, and Ms. Keturah Babb, Youth Delegate – to explore opportunities for strategic partnerships,” Minister Pintard said. Minister Pintard noted that it was important that public officials and those who are sponsored by the “People’s Money” provide the basis for expenditure on travel to such meetings.

    “We are further obligated to report on the outcomes we expect and what the terms of reference were for the meeting,” he added. “Please note that the representation by the Government of The Bahamas in this forum provided an opportunity for my Ministry to develop and adopt, based on the Government’s agenda, clear, transparent and Commonwealth-endorsed approaches to youth participation, youth empowerment and development.”

    Minister Pintard said that they also explored how to create youth networks, inclusive of utilizing national youth councils. “Furthermore, we were able to increase our capacity to improve and/or create guidelines for partnerships between my Ministry, representatives of youth organizations and other youth governing bodies within and outside of The Bahamas,” he stated. In addition, to the previously stated objectives, Minister Pintard said, the purpose of the meeting was three-fold. The first objective, he said, was to review and assess programs in national youth development; share, celebrate and adopt good practice strategies, solutions and models; and identify new priorities for action to advance youth development in the Commonwealth – in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015. The second broad objective, he said, was to explore the holistic potential of youth and their role in national development and in the youth sector. “Furthermore participants at this conference gathered to consider emerging youth themes, and how they might contribute to the global youth development agenda,” Minister Pintard said.

    Thirdly and finally, he said, the meeting gave participants an opportunity to engage with international organizations and the private sector on strategies for technical and financial support for national and regional youth development. “I am happy to report that this meeting of Youth Ministers, and Youth Stakeholders and International Organizations achieved this,” he said. Minister Pintard pointed out that during the meetings, members of the Bahamian delegation were able to review current youth development tools used internationally, pursue resources and learn about potential access to professional support available to member states, which are affiliated with Commonwealth Youth Program (CYP). These meetings, he said, proved to be successful for the entire team. “We in the Ministry were able to secure numerous professional partnerships and strategic alliances with other Member States and International Organizations,” Minister Pintard said. “The Bahamas delegation had an opportunity to critically assess its own initiatives and the others presented, that we thought might be useful in The Bahamas. “We were able to determine how we could better equip youth practitioners, young people, themselves, and, of course, how to guide the implementation of the National Youth Policy – which has been entrained for at least a decade.” “Further opportunities were granted to investigate various avenues for technical assistance from represented agencies and further assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat,” Minister Pintard added. “I am happy to report that significant inroads made during the recent trip to Uganda.”

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  • THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANNOUNCES THE APPOINTMENTS OF THE BAHAMAS’ HIGH COMMISSIONER TO CANADA, AND THE BAHAMAS' AMBASSADORS TO THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, AND HAITI

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to announce the following appointments:

    Mr. Alvin Smith, former Educator, Member of Parliament and Speaker of The House of Assembly, has been appointed The Bahamas’ High Commissioner to Canada.

    Mr. Sterling Quant, Attorney at Law, former Registrar General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, past Managing Director of the Bahamas Development Bank and a basketball pioneer for Bahamians internationally, has been appointed The Bahamas’ Ambassador to The People’s Republic of China.

    Mr. Jeffrey Williams, international expert in Foreign Exchange Debt, former Vice-President of Deltec Bank & Trust and past Commissioner of the Baseball and Football Association of The Bahamas, has been appointed The Bahamas’ Ambassador to The Republic of Haiti.

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  • CTI PAID COURTESY CALL ON MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

    Members of the Convention Against Torture Initiative (CTI) paid a courtesy call on the Hon. Darren Henfield, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and senior Ministry officials on Monday, November 13, 2017 at the Ministry's offices. The delegation was headed by H.E. Ib Petersen, Danish Ambassador to the United Nations, along with Dr. Alice Edwards, H.E. Sammie Eddico, Sebastián Cabezas Chamorro, and Stefanie Engelberg.

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  • GOVERNMENT PURSUES FISCAL PRUDENCE AND EASE OF PROCESS TO FUEL ECONOMY

    In a bid to counteract the effects of the current economic crisis and to stimulate economic recovery in The Bahamas, the government is ‘aggressively’ pursuing ways to boost the economy. This, according to the Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Hon. Brent Symonette is an objective that is of top priority to the government. Minister was speaking to stakeholders during the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) ‘Accountants Week’ Opening Ceremony. The event was held at Melia Nassau Beach, November 14, 2017. “Our plan is to reinforce the principles of strong leadership, based on ethical governance, that is transparent and accountable, and which applies firm and prudent fiscal responsibility and management,” said Minister Symonette. “These elements are vital to the financial stability and future growth of the Bahamian economy.”

    He said that the country’s fiscal deficit is estimated to be 5.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the fiscal year ending June 2017, up from 3.5 percent of GDP in FY2016, due to sharp increases in the wage bill, post-hurricane cleanup and reconstruction spending, temporary tax reliefs, and disruptions in revenue collection. The central government debt-to-GDP ratio, he explained, is estimated to have increased to 73 percent of GDP in FY2017. “This was incurred in the previous five years under the former administration,” he said. “What this means is that we are in pretty bad shape! And it will take tough decisions to steadily reduce the annual deficit and decrease government debt.” He said that these dramatic actions would have long lasting implications for all investors and citizens. “In order for The Bahamas economy to compete and prosper in [the] global environment, we must create conditions that facilitate the “ease of doing business” in an open, innovative, productive and competitive environment. “The Bahamas ranks 121st place among 190 countries on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index,” said Minister Symonette. “The government has embraced this idea, with the understanding that we must be forward thinking if we are to advance ourselves as a nation, and continue to compete in the global economy.

    The IMF October 2017 reported that The Bahamas has had a prolonged period of stagnation, resulting in declining income relative to neighboring countries; concerns about fiscal sustainability; and a severe household debt overhang problem.” He pointed out that they also cited elevated public debt, limited external buffers, and a pegged exchange rate regime, as constraints to the policy space to allow response to shocks.

    “For its part, the government is committed to creating favorable conditions by building an efficient public sector and investing in public infrastructure to sustain, support and spur economic growth,” he said. “Currently in progress is the drafting and tabling of legislation to streamline procedures and improve the ease of doing business.” As well as, the enhancement and reconfiguration of government agencies to facilitate ease of process and sharing of information between agencies (companies registrar, business license unit, NIB, BIA, regulatory agencies), the Minister said that the government has already begun to implement changes to immigration processes for tax residency, work permit relaxation for certain classes of persons, economic permanent residency and threshold for purchase of a residence to $750,000.

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  • B.A.I.C EXECUTIVES VIEW ITS INVESTMENT PROJECTS AND INTERESTS IN ELEUTHERA

    The Hon. Renward Wells Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources and the Mrs. Miriam Emmanuel Executive Chairman of The Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corporation (BAIC) led a delegation to Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera from October 26 th to 27 th October 2017, to conduct site inspections on BAIC’s land inventory and proposed investment projects in the pipeline for the island of Eleuthera. Accompanying the Minister and Chairman were Ms. Phedra Rahming Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Mr. Troy Sampson General Manager of BAIC, BAIC Board of Directors Keith Carroll and Jameel Lightbourne, Senior Fisheries Official Mr. Gregory Bethel along with Senior Officials from both agencies. Both Members of Parliament Mr. Hank Johnson and Mr. Ricky Mackey, along with Administrator Gilbert Kemp, Chief Councillors and Local Government officials joined the Ministry of Agriculture,BAIC and potential investors to participate in the orientation tours. In keeping with the proposed BAIC work programme for the 2017-2018, Deputy General Manager Mrs. Judith Thompson, who has the responsibility for Family Island Development projects, noted the importance of the incoming Administration conducting the inspections ‘on the ground’ as it would give the officials an opportunity to see firsthand the layout of the proposed projects.

    As a part of its mandate, BAIC oversees one of the largest portfolios of land under management in The Bahamas. These properties are located in New Providence, Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera, Spring City, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Norman’s Castle in Treasure Cay, Abaco, Grand Bahama and North Andros. Under the direction of Minister Wells and Chairman Emmanuel geared toward fulfilling the mandate of the present government; the two agencies are to ensure joint collaborative efforts in the creation of sustainable economic development on the Family Islands and to assist in the development of commerce and industry within The Bahamas. The touristic and agricultural projects under review range from boutique resort hotels, fast ferry

    high-speed operations, ship yard and marina development to large scale organic farms and housing

    projects. It is anticipated that the final review of the processing of all projects will be carried out in

    the ensuing weeks.

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  • B.A.I.C ON THE MOVE TO NORTH ANDROS

    In continuing their efforts to collaborate on the agenda of the new government in the fields of agricultural

    development and research, Mrs. Miriam Emmanuel, Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Agricultural and

    Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and Mrs. Phedra Rahming, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources travelled to North Andros on Monday, 30 th October 2017 to visit the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) , North Andros Packing House and North Andros Agro- Industrial Park . Also in attendance were Hon. Carlton Bowleg, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture & Marine Resources and Member of Parliament for North Andros and the Berry Islands, Mr. Alassis Braynen, General Manager of BAMSI and Dr. Jason Sands, Chief Operations Officer of the Gladstone Road Agricutural Center (GRAC). The Board of Directors of BAIC, Deputy Chairman Mrs. Debbie Mott- Strachan, Mr. Bernard Adderley, Mr. Keith Carroll, Mr. Jameel Lightbourne, Mr. Vernal Martinbourough, and Mr. Mark Turnquest also accompanied the delegation.

    Mr. Troy Sampson General Manager of BAIC and Mrs. Judith Thompson Deputy General Manager, along with Mr. Alphonso Smith Domestic and Investment Officer for BAIC North Andros Office coordinated the one-day tour of BAMSI and BAIC facilities. The visit also afforded other team members of BAIC to be a part of the planning committee for ongoing projects in North Andros. Some of the projects are in the areas of agri-business, farming, food processing and general business. As the Government of the Bahamas forges ahead with the development in the agricultural and marine sectors, continued focus will remain on BAMSI to ensure that the necessary linkages are made to assist the future development of the sectors. Executive Chairman and Permanent Secretary Rahming opined that the site inspection presented an excellent perspective for the two agencies, as it was easier to make decisions having been “on the ground” and seeing firsthand, the entire layout of the BAMSI. In the coming weeks, Permanent Secretary Rahming added that her primary goal was to sit with the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Agriculture technical teams in an effort to conclude and to restore all outstanding matters which pre-empted the opening of BAMSI to the agricultural entrepreneurs.

    The delegation toured BAMSI Buildings under construction, the main faculty building, the newly planted

    papaya and banana fields and the livestock area. The tour also included the viewing of crops being grown

    using the technology of hydroponics, a process that reduced the normal production time of some crops.

    Before returning to the capital, Chairman Emmanuel and her delegation were able to tour the Red Bays

    proposed Handicraft Center which is expected to house all artisans and local residents interested in

    displaying their handicraft items to Bahamians and tourists visiting the Red Bays area.

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  • P.M MINNIS TO APPOINT DELIVERABLES UNIT/BEGINS FULFILLING PROMISE OF QUARTERLY MEETINGS WITH CABINET MINISTERS

    The Minnis Administration will establish a Deliverables Unit that will be responsible for tracking projects and initiatives set out and agreed to by the Prime Minister, Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Anthony Newbold said Tuesday (November 14). The Unit will also be responsible for establishing timelines for the completion of those projects and initiatives set out by the Prime Minister and will have the further responsibility for “various ministers and ministries.” The establishment of the Deliverables Unit is part of the Minnis Administration’s overarching plan to ensure that good governance and accountability remain key priorities of its administration. “Good governance and accountability are hallmarks of this government of Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis,” Press Secretary Newbold said Tuesday during his regular weekly press briefing. “This Unit will be handpicked and will be a combination of the best and brightest minds from the public and private sectors.”

    The Unit is expected to begin its work as early as January 2018. Press Secretary Newbold further reported that the Prime Minister has begun to fulfill his promise of quarterly meetings with individual Cabinet Ministers with a view to assessing the work of individual ministries while helping to improve the effectiveness of each ministry in carrying out the Government’s policies. The decision is part of the Minnis Administration’s programme of reform and transformation in governance as foreshadowed in the Speech From the Throne during the Opening of Parliament (May 2017). As part of the programme of transformation and reform, each government ministry will be asked to develop a multi-year plan with clear, annual, metrics for that ministry, and in keeping with available finances and resources. “These plans will be developed by senior staff and technical officers in each ministry in accordance with my Government’s Manifesto commitments and related objectives. These plans will be developed with reference to the National Development Plan. My Ministers will be held accountable for these plans,” Prime Minister Minnis said at the time of the announcement. Prime Minister Minnis has already met with Cabinet Ministers the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd (Minister of Education); the Hon. Romauld Ferrreira (Minister of the Environment and Housing) and the Hon. Lanisha Rolle (Minister of Social Services and Urban Development).

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