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Growth Plan for Bank of The Bahamas

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NASSAU, 31 Oct 2014 –

Statement by
The Right Honourable Perry G. Christie MP
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

For 25 years, successive governments have worked hard to transform Bank of The Bahamas from a foreign owned entity into a fully Bahamian owned clearing bank with a unique mix of public and private sector ownership, offering to the public a wide range of banking services in New Providence, Grand Bahama and various Family Islands where other clearing banks have historically shown little interest in going.

Today:

• BOB is 100% Bahamian-owned : 65% by the Government of The Bahamas, with the remaining 35% being widely held by some 3,500 Bahamian shareholders.

• BOB now has total assets of $771 million dollars, compared with only $93 million when the Government acquired ownership of the bank from the Bank of Montreal 25 years ago in 1988.

• BOB has approximately 40,000 depositors today with deposits totalling $679 million dollars.

• BOB has total loan assets of approximately $650 million dollars

• BOB operates through 14 branches in The Bahamas

• BOB employs more than 350 Bahamians.

With all that successive governments have done over the years as majority shareholders of the bank, the guiding resolve has remained the same:

• to maintain the safety and security of customer deposits at all times;

• to ensure that the bank is operated in accordance with regulatory norms imposed by the Central Bank of The Bahamas and industry “best practices” ;

• to ensure that the bank delivers its services to its customers at a world-class standard and in a way that is relevant and responsive to the needs of Bahamians and their national economy ;and

• to ensure that at all times the bank is backed by what is colloquially referred to as the “full, faith and credit” of the government as the majority shareholder, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the bank through a policy on non-interference by the government in day-to-day management and credit decision-making.

Although between 1993 and 2012, BOB enjoyed an unbroken record of profitability, it has, in common with nearly all other clearing banks in The Bahamas, experienced reversals either resulting from or exacerbated by the recent global recession and, in particular, the last U.S. recession.

In the case of the Bank of The Bahamas, the Central Bank, under the leadership of Governor Wendy Craigg, has carefully monitored BOB with particular reference to the risks posed by BOB’s portfolio of non-performing commercial loans. As part of this regulatory oversight, the Central Bank has engaged the Ministry of Finance in constructive dialogue on remediation strategies. Out of this has developed a specific plan of action.

I am therefore pleased to announce this plan today. Here is how it will work:

The Ministry of Finance has established a new Bahamian company, Bahamas Resolve Ltd (“Resolve”) which is wholly-owned and wholly controlled by the Government of The Bahamas. Resolve has taken over B$100M in troubled commercial loans from Bank of The Bahamas, thereby removing this risk from BOB’s books. In so doing, the Bank’s revenue prospects will be immediately and significantly improved. At the same time, shareholder value and the Bank’s overall financial condition will be enhanced as well. It will also allow Bank of The Bahamas to return to profitability in the near future and will restore full compliance with Central Bank and international regulatory standards for capital adequacy.

I should like to emphasize, firstly, that no public treasury or National Insurance funds have been disbursed in connection with the assignment of these loans from BOB to Resolve. However, liability for these debts has been transferred to Resolve along with the benefit of the loans and the underlying security. And as the new owner of the transferred loans, Resolve will be putting special mechanisms in place to assist in the collection of the overdue loans.

Secondly, I should also like to emphasize that this transaction, under which $100 million in commercial loan debt has been transferred from BOB to Resolve, was developed in close consultation with BOB’s legal advisors in this matter, Higgs & Johnson, and BOB’s external auditors, Ernst & Young, both of whom have provided affirmative opinions on the transaction.

And thirdly, I should also like to emphasize that this kind of transaction is not fundamentally dissimilar to state-led re-structurings that were done or accommodated for a number of banks in the more developed economies of the world, including the U.S., in the wake of the 2008 recession.

In addition to what I have just outlined, I wish to make it known that the Bahamas Government, consistently with its 65% stake in BOB, will be pursuing new initiatives designed to steer more public sector business and public employee credit demand towards the Bank of The Bahamas. In doing so, however, the Government will, of course, be mindful of its obligation to maintain a fair and competitive commercial environment for all banks in The Bahamas. I have therefore instructed the Ministry of Finance to determine the best course of action for achieving these objectives on a correctly balanced basis.

In conjunction with the elements of the plan that I have just outlined, the Bank of The Bahamas will also undertake re-structuring action of its own to re-align and re-balance the bank’s business model towards more retail banking, consumer lending and e-banking products.

BOB’s Board of Directors has also been directed to assess its management and cost structure, and to submit recommendations to the Government, as the majority shareholder, for management and administrative re-organization, before the end of 2014.

Together, the plan and measures that I have outlined will help ensure the sustained stability and future growth and profitability of BOB. The Bank of The Bahamas bank has a great and prosperous future ahead of it.

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Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation Celebrates World Tourism Day

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#TheBahamas, September 28, 2021 – “This year, World Tourism Day has been designated as a day to focus on inclusive growth through tourism, which is quite poignant,” said Deputy Prime Minister The Honourable I. Chester Cooper, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation. “Like many Caribbean destinations, tourism is the heartbeat of The Bahamas and as we say, it is everyone’s business. Our beaches are breathtaking, and the water is so clear you can see it from space, but that is not what defines us. Rather, it is every individual person who shapes the Bahamas experience and stands to benefit from tourism’s success. I am committed to creating jobs and opportunities for all Bahamians and to help our great nation heal.”

As international travel restrictions begin to ease, spurred by an increase in vaccine accessibility, The Bahamas is well positioned for continued recovery. A rise in scheduled airlift combined with the return of the cruise industry is contributing to a positive increase in visitor numbers, leading to nearly 500,000 visitors over the first six months of the year.

“While we have faced an uphill battle during these unprecedented times, we must stay focused and optimistic as the world begins to reopen,” noted the Deputy Prime Minister. “I join with leaders throughout the Caribbean to elevate the importance of social inclusion, sustainability and smart destinations and businesses. Our beautiful country, and our beloved Caribbean region, will prosper again and continue to progress, as in the words of the motto of The Bahamas:  Forward, Upward, Onward, Together.”

 

Photo Credit: Sandals.com

 

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Lyford Cay Foundations Award Academic Scholarships to 18 Bahamians

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#TheBahamas, September 27, 2021 – Eighteen Bahamians who are committed to making a difference in The Bahamas in fields ranging from mitigating climate change to ending physical abuse have been awarded generous undergraduate and graduate school scholarships from the Lyford Cay Foundations.

Today’s announcement of the names of academic awardees follows earlier news that for the first time in its 50+ year history, the Foundations saw the majority of successful applicants for vocational scholarships chose training and certification in medical or health-related subjects – perhaps inspired by the great health care needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Both groups, academic and technical vocational, were outstanding this year, making the work of the independent screening committees more challenging than ever and many of the students who applied were so impressive that they were also being offered substantial scholarships from top universities, all of which speaks for the quality and reputation of students from The Bahamas,” said Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, Executive Director. “What was of particular interest this year is the common thread in their essays, almost like a fire burning in them – a desire to make a difference in The Bahamas when they return.”

One of those recipients, Empress Sears, a graduate of Sunland Baptist Academy in Grand Bahama, is off to study Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto with a William Birchall Scholarship. “An issue we as Bahamians should all be concerned about is the lack of attention given to our natural resources,” Sears wrote in her essay. “Our beaches, mangroves, pine forests, and coral reefs are in a state of peril….Overproduction of air pollutants has caused the temperature to steadily climb worldwide. The results of this come in the form of sweltering heat and devastating hurricanes. These effects play a major role in why our natural resources are under extreme stress. It is our duty as Bahamians to seek out the best possible methods to reduce the severity of these natural disasters.”

Two other recipients, Jasmine Adamson and Paul Roberts, plan to tackle the energy problem, focusing on renewables, Roberts at University of California, Berkley, and Adamson at Kettering University.

Another, Rhodricia Francis, was inspired by her own family’s experience to become a pharmaceutical chemist. “I believe that Bahamians deserve access to better treatments and medications,” she wrote. “As a pharmaceutical chemist, I will develop novel, effective drugs with minimal side effects and investigate more efficient methods to synthesize current drugs. Efficiency in drug creation will make medication more accessible to the general population.”

Lyford Cay Foundation Chairman Basil Goulandris cited the variety of interests and ambition as “extraordinary.”

“Every year, we think how can next year’s applicants equal this year’s and every year, new applicants surprise us,” he said. “This year, the applicants showed interest in a wide variety of subjects that were very demanding and an extraordinary ambition to make The Bahamas even better.”

Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation Chairman Tim Unwin agreed.

“When you look at the fields of study and the quality of the scholarship recipients for 2021-22, you have to feel that the future of The Bahamas is in good hands,” Unwin declared. “Upon their return to The Bahamas, these wonderful students will find many opportunities to give effect to their vision.

 The Foundations awarded $380,000 in scholarships this year to 26 new recipients in addition to the 27 ongoing scholarships allowing Bahamians to study throughout the US, Canada and the UK. The Foundations have awarded more than $50 million in education benefits to Bahamians along with helping to support non-profits, with an emphasis on those that contribute to education.

Recipients of this year’s new undergraduate scholarships include Paul Roberts – Physics at the University of California, Berkeley; Jasmine Adamson – Mechanical Engineering, Kettering University; Zion Virgil – Chemistry, Florida Southern College; Rhodricia Francis – Chemistry, Florida International University; Jaleah Taylor – Visual Arts/Communications, Media and Film, University of Windsor; Kiara Minnis – Computer Science Degree with Cooperative Education, Lakehead University; Ashanti Marshall – English and Art, St. Francis Xaviers; Shealyn Burrows – Chemistry, St. Mary’s University; Tyler Christie – Biology, St. Mary’s University; Dacacia Russell – Accounting, Mount Royal University; Chandler Darville – Mechanical Engineering, University of Toronto; Alexander Baxter – Management, University of Toronto; Asya Johnson – Computer Science, University of New Brunswick; Empress Sears – Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto.

Those working toward graduate degrees include :  Leandria Albury – Public Health Administration and Policy, University of Minnesota; Felecia Campbell – Child and Youth Care, Holland College; Lemuel Johnson – Trumpet Performance, Western Illinois University; and Clarence Albury – Creative Writing, Witchita State University.

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Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board Celebrates World Tourism Day

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The Destination Continues to See an Influx of Tourists, Following One of the Busiest Summers on Record, and Is Optimistic for the Future

#TurksandCaicos, September 27, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board, the exclusive tourism authority for the Turks and Caicos Islands, is excited to celebrate World Tourism Day on today, September 27, 2021, and reflect on the Island’s significant increase in tourism since the pandemic. Thanks to the Tourist Board’s strategic marketing and public relations plans, combined with its vigilant TCI Assured protocols, aggressive vaccine campaign, and pent-up travel demand, the destination reported one of its busiest summers to date in 2021 with an increase of over 18% in June, 19% in July, and 15% in August compared to pre-pandemic statistics in 2019.

“On World Tourism Day and every day, we are proud to celebrate the success of tourism to the Turks and Caicos Islands, especially after the challenges that we and all tourism-driven countries faced during the pandemic,” said Pamela Ewing, Director of Tourism for the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board. “We have worked hard to enforce necessary safety protocols to ensure that tourism, our main economic driver, continues to positively impact both our local and travelling communities. The destination is optimistic for one of the busiest Festive seasons to date ahead, and we wish success to all other islands in the Caribbean.”

Tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands continues to flourish due to the Tourist Board’s strategic marketing and public relations campaigns in the United States, Canada, South America, United Kingdom and Europe to promote the destination as safe for travelers. This includes press trips with key publications, radio campaigns in source markets, advertising and partnerships with stakeholders, and executing the signature event, Turks and Caicos Conference (TACC), which updated all partners on protocols and accommodation availability.

“We are grateful for all of our valued tourism partners, who have supported our efforts to ensure the ongoing safety of our residents and guests, and to the community for their vigilance in getting vaccinated and adhering to protocols,” said Honorable Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism for the Turks and Caicos Islands. “It is because of everyone’s commitment that we’ve been able to keep tourism thriving safely and allow guests to focus on enjoying the exceptional vacation experience afforded by the destination, our picturesque beaches, and our world-class resorts and villas.”

Travel confidence has also increased thanks to the destination’s TCI Assured portal, a quality assurance pre-travel program and portal, which requires require a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR, NAA, RNA or Antigen test result from a test taken within three days of travel, medical / travel insurance that covers medevac, a completed health screening questionnaire, and proof of vaccination for all visitors ages 16 years and over. The vaccine requirement underscores the destination’s commitment to health and safety and expands on its already vigilant travel protocols, which have been in place for travelers since July 22, 2020, when the destination opened its borders to tourists. The Turks and Caicos Islands also continues to promote its vaccine campaign among residents, with over 70 percent of the adult population being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine—making it one of the most inoculated countries in the world.

For more information on the Turks and Caicos Islands, call 1 (800) 241-0824 or visit www.turksandcaicostourism.com. Follow the Turks and Caicos Islands on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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