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Gaming and Crime Bill Pass in the House

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The Bahamas, 19th Sept 2014 (Bahamas Information Services) – It is official. Webshop gaming in The Bahamas is no longer an underground industry but a fully regulated $600 million component of both the domestic tourism and financial services sector product offerings. Late Monday evening, 25 Parliamentarians voted yes, seven voted no and five were absent at the third and final reading, committal and vote on the historic Gaming Bill and attendant regulations that promised to transform the gaming industry, both land based and online.

Defending the government’s decision to legalize and regulate this industry in the best interest of The Bahamas and responding to his critics, Prime Minister Christie said that it was important not to “attribute to one side sin, corrupt practices, when they are motivated to do….what all of the agencies of the world would reasonably expect them to do in the circumstances.” The Prime Minister was referring to concerns raised by the Governor of the Central Bank and the Compliance Commission about the unregulated gaming industry. These concerns were raised after the January 28, 2012 gaming referendum.

The Prime Minister was emphatic in his position that “no government faced with the information this government was faced with…could arrogate unto itself the right to say, ‘let’s ignore that.’ This now… becomes a major matter for the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister of The Bahamas and that’s me.” The Prime Minister was referring to an external review and national risk assessment of The Bahamas’ economy by an anti-money laundering taskforce from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) scheduled for 2015. The numbers industry must be a part of this risk assessment said the Prime Minister and the government will liaise with all financial industries in the country to determine areas of vulnerability.

“Fostering growth, transparency and social responsibility comes as The Bahamas faces in 2015 a more thorough external review by CFATF than it has ever faced before. A review as to risk and areas of vulnerability in our economy” said the Prime Minister, referring to an October 2013 article published by one of the dailies about this extensive and thorough national audit of the country’s economy by the CATF in 2015. Legalizing and regulating the numbers industry was the correct and reasoned policy decision for any responsible government, given the circumstances facing The Bahamas argued Prime Minister Christie.

The Prime Minister went further in hammering home the principal of probity which is the fundamental cornerstone of any credible gaming dispensation:

“The most fundamental cornerstone of any credible gaming dispensation anywhere in the world can be distilled into a single word. That word is “probity”. Probity focuses on establishing that any given person who seeks to be involved in the gaming industry, whether as a regulator or as a licence holder, is fit and proper to do so, and moreover remains fit and proper on an ongoing basis. The currency of probity is therefore information concerning the relevant individual, ranging from information regarding the personal history of that person, or business history, where that person is a corporate entity, to information relating to the financial history, capacity and dealings of that person, as well as criminal history and associations with other persons.” The Prime Minister was confident that a fully regulated Bahamian gaming industry would pass the universally acceptable credibility litmus test of “probity.”

Turning his attention to the taxes, fees, penalties and social and community contributions with respect to gaming houses, the Prime Minister had this to say:

1. “As provided in section 85 subsection (16) of the Gaming Bill, after making a full and frank disclosure of all turnover and gross profit generated by the conduct of their businesses as defined in the Business Licence Act, for a period of six years for businesses which were in operation for six years or more, or from the date of start up for those operations who were in business for a lesser period than six years, make payment in full of:

(i) All fees payable under the Business Licence Act for the review period, to the extent that any turnover or gross profits generated by the conduct of such business had not been disclosed.

(ii) All gaming taxes which would have been payable by that business had such business been licenced under the Gaming Act, calculated at the prescribed rate commencing on 1st July, 2014.

(iii) A penalty in the amount of

(a) $350,000 in respect of a business with a gross turnover of less than five million dollars; and

(b) $750,000 in respect of a business with a gross turnover of less than give million dollars.

2. Payment of the licence fees set out in Regulations 49-55 of The Gaming House Operation Regulations, 2014

3. As prescribed in Regulation 57 of the Gaming House Operator Regulations 2014, payment of gaming taxes whichever should be the greater of —

(a) 11% of taxable revenue

(b) 25% of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

4. Regulation 57 of the Gaming House Operator Regulations 2014 also provides that the tax should be subject to review—

(a) During the transitional period following the receipt of the RFP and audited financial statements;

(b) At such time as the Minister may otherwise direct.

5. In accordance with Regulation 4 of the Gaming House Operator Regulations, 2014 the RFP may require gaming house operators to make monetary contributions of a minimum of 1% for corporate social investments initiatives and 1%for community improvement.”

Amended Crime Bills passed in the House
The compendium of crime bills intended to improve the administration of justice was passed in the House on Wednesday, 17th September 2014. They were:
· Bail Amendment Act
· Coroners Amendment Act
· Evidence Amendment Act
· Abolition of the Mandatory Minimum Sentence

Under the amended Bail Act, the burden is now on the bail applicant to prove why the court should grant bail and the court must now take into account the safety of the victim in its consideration to grant bail.

Under the amended Coroners Act, the Coroner is empowered to make homicide findings. The amended Evidence Act basically allows a witness to provide testimony via live television link. The conditions are when a witness is on another island; when being present in court creates fear and distress on the witness and when the court of trial considers it appropriate on its own motion.

The minimum mandatory sentences were abolished for possession of drugs, firearms and ammunition and judges are given judicial discretion in each case. Recently, Justice Jon Isaacs ruled that a 4-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug possession with the intent to supply was unconstitutional.

In passing
The Referendum date delayed to 2015; the CBTUC called off strike and returned to work this past Monday amid continuing negations with the government and the General Education Diploma program (GED) was launched by the government this week through a partnership between Atlantic College and the Urban Renewal Commission.

The Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC) and the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) both inked new labour agreements with the Bahamas Public Service Union; new immigration rules announced in the House and the once stolen and returned Bahamian Iguanas are released to the wild.

The Clifton Heritage Authority will host the media this evening at the Hilton; Bimini gets a new ferry passenger port and more job opportunities; Prime Minister Christie tours the Grand Bahama Shipyard today and the HMBS Leon Livingstone Smith, the third of nine new patrol vessels for the RBDF to be commissioned at 6:30 pm this evening at the Kelly Dock.


Elcott Coleby
Deputy Director
Bahamas Information Services
326-5833
477-7006

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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TCI Census Contests Results coming soon

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – After the revelation that the 2022 National Census had to be put on the back burner because of gang violence, the Department of Statistics is reassuring residents that the competitions held in relation to the census have already been judged and results will be announced soon. 

In a follow up to a Magnetic Media report of Tuesday November 29, we spoke to Shirlen Forbes, who heads the Department of Statistics.  Mr. Forbes explained that the logo, slogan and tagline contests for the census already had their winners.

Prizes for the logo competition ranged from $400 to $1000.The slogan competition open to high school and TCICC students only had prices ranging from $150-$400 and the tagline contest start up to $350 in prizes up for grabs for primary school students in the TCI.

If the reduction in crime holds steady, Forbes said the Census is expected to resume work in January 2023.

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Caribbean News

National Innovator of the Year Passionate about Technology in Education

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#Jamaica, November 30, 2022 – Educational Technologist, Davia Bryan-Campbell, is the 2022 National Innovator of the Year.

She copped the award for her creation, ‘EduHub Teach’, a platform that enables teachers to access and share resources with each other.

Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Hon. Daryl Vaz, presented Mrs. Bryan-Campbell with her award during a recent ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

Mrs. Bryan-Campbell, who is also a trained teacher, is Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of EduHub Company Limited.

Though she says the win was surprising, it was not by chance that her longstanding passion for technology in education has translated into a potentially life-changing innovation.

“I am passionate about information and communications technology (ICT), but I am more passionate about the collaboration between ICT and education. My love is really ‘ed-tech’… not just ICT but technology in education,” she tells JIS News.

Mrs. Bryan-Campbell points out that one of her greatest challenges is that in addition to focusing on the students, she and other teachers had lesson plans, worksheets, projects, PowerPoint presentations, and other administrative engagements to undertake, describing these as overwhelming.

“EduHub Teach was, therefore, designed out of the need to provide greater support to educators across the island, where they can become a part of an online community, [and] where they can collaborate and discover curriculum-specific resources,” she informs.

Mrs. Bryan-Campbell is hopeful that the platform will improve the overall education system, as it enables teachers to focus on “what really matters, which is the students and their learning outcomes”, and reduce their workload.

The talented innovator, who hails from Clarendon, says her interest in ICT became “very pronounced” whilst a student at Edwin Allen High School in the parish.

By the time she matriculated to the Shortwood Teachers’ College in St. Andrew, Mrs. Bryan-Campbell had embraced this interest fully, finding ways to infuse ICT in her lesson plans and instructional delivery to her students.

“When I moved on to [work at] St. George’s College, I used ICT to develop my lessons. I would always use the [audio-visual] AV room, ensuring that ICT was a critical part of teaching and learning,” she highlights.

The innovator also worked with e-Learning Jamaica Limited as a Project Implementation Officer, Training Officer, Training Manager, and Project Manager.  Her attendant engagements allowed her to contribute to national ICT-related programmes, such as the ‘Tablets in Schools’ and ‘Tablets for Teachers’ initiatives.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of South Wales, a Bachelor’s degree in Guidance and Counselling from the Jamaica Theological Seminary, and several certificates in ICT, Instructional Design and Project Management.

A total of 37 entries were received across several categories for this year’s National Innovation Awards.

Chief Adjudicator, Professor Ronald Young, who delivered the judges’ report, pointed out that the submissions were required to have practically demonstrable functionality, perform a function that makes life easier and/or improve the quality of life, display creativity and demonstrate the economic use of materials that are available locally or are indigenous to Jamaica.

This, in addition to being original or a unique adaptation of existing gadgets, equipment, concepts, processes, products or services, with social or economic benefit and realising or at least having the potential for commercialisation while being safe for use and environmentally friendly.

The awards are presented biennially. However, it was last held in 2018, due to the COVID-19 pandemic which cancelled the 2020 staging.

 

BY: MICKELLA ANDERSON

JIS News

Caption: Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz (left), presents Chief Executive Officer/Founder of EduHub Company Limited, Davia Bryan-Campbell, with the 2022 National Innovator of the Year award during a recent ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

Yhomo Hutchinson Photo

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Crime

Study reveals Online Sexual Exploitation of Children rose in Pandemic; Philippines among the worst

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

A recent study from UNICEF and investigation by the BBC have revealed horrific levels of child abuse in the Philippines fueled by pandemic lockdowns and increasing poverty. The study  revealed that country has become a den for Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OSEAC) in which adults sometimes even parents force children to perform sexual acts on camera for paying pedophiles on the internet.

A key finding of the study was that certain cultural beliefs contribute to the spread of OSAEC such as ‘if the children are untouched, they are not harmed’ and ‘OSAEC provides easy money and almost everyone does it.’

The BBC’s Laura Bicker visited Preda, an orphanage in the country that specifically helps abused children. Located in the orphanage is a dark padded room outfitted with an on hand therapist. Bicker described what she saw and heard.

“Some of the toughest healing at Preda happens inside a dark room with soft music playing in the background. There are large pads on the walls and floors – the kind gymnasts would use for a soft landing. The only light comes from the open door. About five children are kneeling, each in their own space.  Most of them are facing the wall. The overwhelming sound is the erratic thud of their fists and feet as they pummel the pads. The first raw, anguished cries make your heart stop. And then it starts again, but it’s difficult to keep listening, even from a distance, even for a few minutes. The questions hurled at the cushioned walls – “Why did you do this to me? Why me? What did I do?”

The situation is becoming increasingly dire.

Only around 20 per cent of Filipino children are listed by UNICEF as not vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and the pandemic has made it worse. UNICEF says a good grasp of the English Language, availability and ease of access to technology, well-established financial transaction facilities, and ‘absence of perceived conflict between sexual exploitation and significant social norms are some of the reasons the gruesome industry is allowed to thrive and expand.

While instances of online abuse may not be as prevalent in the Caribbean instances of sexual abuse are still high.  A recent study revealed that nearly 15 per cent of children aged 11–12 years and, 35 per cent of young people, 14–15 years old reported having had sexual experiences. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2019 those numbers have spiked.

In  Jamaica alone pediatricians said cases abuse rose 70 per cent during the pandemic but cases reported to the police dropped significantly indicating extreme underreporting.

Sexual crimes are some of the most underreported crimes in the world for various reasons including fear, coercion and shame. Protection of children from sexual abuse in all its forms must then become a community effort with adults taking on the responsibility of investigating and speaking up on behalf of children who may not be able to do so on their own.

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