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HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS BY HON. FRED MITCHELL MP DEBATE ON THE ELECTRICITY (AMENDMENT) ACT 2014

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House Intervention by Fred Mitchell MP

Electricity (amendment) Act

21 January 2014

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Mr. Speaker,

I support this legislation.

I want to say that one of the statements I remember about energy is that at a Chamber of Commerce dinner where my friend Henry Dean was named Developing Entrepreneur of the Year; former Treasury Secretary of the United States Nicholas Brady who is a resident of Lyford Cay spoke. He said that you cannot develop your economy without a reliable source of electricity. I think Bahamians know instinctively that that is correct.

You just have to ask those who cuss every time the power goes off in this country. The problem is I do not remember a time when the power was not going off in this country: it didn’t matter which government, from the UBP time to now. The history is power failure after power failure.

So this government is now in, trying to do the heavy lifting to make a reliable power supply a reality for this country. We have that brand new hotel coming up which places enormous power demands on us and we have to find a way to meet the power needs. We cannot have another summer of our people sweating in discontent.

Finally, it appears that the US is engaged in this, in seeking a solution.

In connection with their input, the U S Vice President Joe Biden is convening an energy summit in Washington DC on 26th January. Our Prime Minister in his capacity as Chair of Caricom and in his own right will be making a statement at the conference.

We welcome the engagement of the United States in this matter. In particular, we hope that this will lead to changes in policies by that country to enable cheaper access to energy supplies.

We know for example or have been told that when investors come to The Bahamas and in particular to Grand Bahama, they love the place. Everything is fine, until they hear the cost of power.

When you compare the cost of power at 40 cents per kilowatt hour produced in The Bahamas, Canada produces at 8 cents per KwH, China at 11 cents per KwH, the USA at 12 cents per KwH and Trinidad at 7 cents per KwH.

The US, UK and other partners have criticized the Caricom region for embracing Petro Caribe, a marketing programme by Venezuela to sell petroleum products to Caricom with extended credit. Recently Venezuela sold their credit note to a private sector interest. Countries are watching this carefully but it has been beneficial to all countries in the region that were facing balance of payment problems and had public sector distribution of oil.

We welcome the ability now to join the grid by supplying your own power.

Power will be one of the major determinants about the success or failure of Caricom economies. It is most important that we resolve this problem.

Renewable energy sources are the clear answer. At the moment some relief with the process of fossil fuels falling but we do not know how long this will last. So in the long term we must resolve the issue of the cost of power.

· At the Summit, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will announce a team dedicated to energy projects in the Caribbean. The team will focus on identifying projects, identifying funding and marrying projects with investors. The goal is to unlock private sector capital to enhance energy security and taking on new debt is not the best way to deal with the issue.

· At the Summit, the World Bank is to announce a donor coordination mechanism; i.e. working with different countries to coordinate how energy requirements are approached in the region and to establish a new funding facility that can be drawn on and governments can contribute to.

· Create a sense of high level engagement from the US with the region on energy security, particularly regarding the notion that CARICOM should not be subject to the vagaries of oil markets, governments and oil suppliers, and towards an outcome of cheaper, safer, more reliable energy resources for the region based on market mechanisms;

· Listen to Caribbean leaders to understand better the problems that confront energy pricing and supply in the region;

· Consider necessary market and regulatory reforms in the region needed to spur investment in energy sectors;

· The US currently limits export of energy resources. CARICOM should make a loud call to the US that you should be looking to us as a market and if there will be a opening for US exports of energy resources then we should be the top of the list as a potential market;

· The Caribbean to propose ideas to make its own energy supply less hydro carbon dependent;

· US proposals cannot compete with Petro Caribe because that is not a market based system, which they assume is not sustainable, but intend to discuss what the US is offering as an alternative, namely:

· Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) guarantees for projects;

· Assisting consortium of islands to pool resources to show a demand pulse to oil companies;

· Carving out /prioritizing friends as markets using the leverage the US Government has in divvying out licenses.

For CARICOM, energy security is about creating a more competitive, dynamic and prosperous economy. Lower energy costs will unleash more disposable income for our citizens and make our economies more globally competitive.
· CARICOM would like to be seen as equal partners for investment – the methodology for cooperation could be: “What is in it for you? What is in it for me? Can we do it together?”

· The greater Caribbean should be seen as a viable market for US export and investment and as the third border of the United States, not only friends but family, we expect to be prioritized for any new access provided to US energy resources. We see today’s Summit as a measure of our mutual resolve to strengthen our common future. We look to the US Government for assistance with facilitating bridges between US resources and expertise and Caribbean potential.

· CARICOM is looking to develop its own resiliency, self-sufficiency and export potential given the energy resources, mostly untapped, in our own territories – therefore a priority for assistance should be to help us to help ourselves.

Access to multilateral finance/ aid and private capital is important to developing our own potential to be energy secure. This will require countries like the United States, who have significant influence over multilateral institutions and international financial institutions, to commit to reconceptualising indicators of development needs which are currently based on crude metrics and which lock out many Caribbean countries from access to concessional financing and aid. Either IFI’s will have to reform or risk becoming irrelevant and uncompetitive in relation to emerging international financing options.

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Bahamas News

GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President

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Re:  GBPA’s Response to fire in the International Bazaar

 

#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority is aware of the recent fire at the International Bazaar.

The GBPA has engaged, and continues to engage, with operators of the International Bazaar, which include representatives of the Bazaar Association and several property owners, so that we can continue demolition exercises on the dilapidated structures and buildings.

The GBPA is acutely aware of the need to demolish derelict structures within the International Bazaar for the safety of all businesses and visitors. We have performed demolitions in the past at our own cost, most recently in February 2022 when we, in partnership with owners, demolished fire-damaged buildings in the Oriental Section. We have also written to numerous property owners of dilapidated structures over the years to sensitize them to the need to repair or demolish their buildings.

In addition, we have engaged the Government of the Bahamas in advance discussions to approve our requested amendments of the Building and Sanitary bylaws, which would enable GBPA to execute more demolitions in a timely manner and recoup the associated costs.

With the requested bylaw amendments in place, GBPA can continue to make consistent efforts to address the remainder of derelict buildings in the International Bazaar and other dilapidated structures within the city.

The GBPA itself has never owned any part of the International Bazaar but has historically subsidized the Bazaar for many years when owners were no longer maintaining its communal areas.

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Beneath the Waves’ summer camp inspires young Bahamians to become stewards of the environment

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#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – While the waters near Great Exuma are renowned for their unmatched beauty, last weekend, more than 40 students spent a day with Beneath the Waves learning the deeper value of the marine ecosystems that surround their islands and act as a bedrock for the Bahamian economy and way of life.

As participants in the non-profit’s summer camp, the young students learned about mangrove and coral reef habitats and the many species that live among them.

They heard about some of Beneath the Waves’ research, including studies of sharks, seagrass and blue carbon, and research methods like underwater video surveys.

Coral Vita Conservancy, which has been working relentlessly to restore coral reefs off Grand Bahama, sent team member Joe Oliver , Director of Restoration Operations, to assist with the camp and provide in-depth information on corals in The Bahamas.

Team ECCO, a North Carolina-based ocean education organization, also provided in-depth lessons on invertebrates and fish.

Long after the taste of ice cream at the end-of-day party has faded, campers will remember learning how to tag a lifelike shark. And they’ll wear their camp t-shirts with pride, remembering this is the day they learned to value the water all around them and what lies beneath the waves.

Eleven-year-old twin sisters Kassidy and Kaylee Burrows described the camp as a highlight of their summer vacation.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Kassidy. “And we learned all about sponges, the water, mangroves, coral reefs — how they protect animals and how they protect the shore — and also about animals themselves, aquatic animals, for example, sea anemones, corals, sponges and sharks.”

Kassidy was especially enthused to share her experience with helping to plant new mangroves.

“We found out how mangrove seeds can actually disperse into the water,” she said.

“And I thought they were going to be small seeds, but, in my opinion, they looked like asparagus kind of.

“We also got to go in the water and plant new mangroves.”

Beneath the Waves’ scientists have been studying The Bahamas’ waters for more than a decade, having helped with the creation and management of conservation policies, including the legislation that made the country’s waters a shark sanctuary in 2011.

The non-governmental organization knows that in continuing efforts to protect The Bahamas’ greatest asset, its natural environment, community buy-in is vital.

And in that context, the value of helping young Bahamians gain these kinds of hands-on experiences and lessons, ones they’ll undoubtedly carry with them through life, can’t be overstated.

Kaylee Burrows is already brainstorming the ways she can apply what she learned in her future career.

While the mangroves piqued her sister’s interest, Kaylee said she was fascinated by coral reefs and the important role they play on a global scale, though she noted they don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated.

“I learned that The Bahamas has some of the biggest coral reefs in the world,” she said. “We actually put pieces of coral on a pipe to help build a platform for the coral. The reason I chose coral reefs over all of the topics is because we the people of the Bahamas, don’t even recognize how important our islands are. These coral reefs are very beneficial to the whole world.”

Kaylee said she hopes to one day become a veterinarian and an author.

“As a vet, I can help not just land animals, but marine animals too,” she said. “As an author, I can write books on marine biology. I think this experience helped with my future career, and I’m forever grateful.”

Beneath the Waves Managing Director Jamie Fitzgerald said plans are underway to make the camp an annual event.

“We look forward to being able to work more closely with local schools in the islands we frequent, such as Exuma and Nassau, to develop educational materials around sharks and marine science, and to foster opportunities for internships and future careers for any aspiring Bahamian marine biologists,” Fitzgerald said.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Hands-on experience – Exuma students planting mangroves with the help of research scientists from Beneath the Waves  — just one of the many memorable moments from the non-profit’s summer camp that was held on July 23. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

1st insert: Learning about coral — With the help of experts from Coral Vita, a Grand Bahama-based organization working to restore reefs near the island, students built plaforms for coral. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

2nd insert: More to come  – Camp leaders and participants posed with the inflatable shark, as the first of what is hoped to be many Beneath the Waves summer camps came to an end. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

 

Release: Beneath the Waves

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Caribbean Rising: Regional Heads of Government Meet in The Bahamas Aug 16-17 to discuss Caribbean position on Climate Change Mitigation

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#TheBahamas, August 5, 2022 – The Bahamas will host the first Regional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean in preparation for COP27 in Nassau, The Bahamas on August 16-17, 2022.

The inaugural event is being introduced by the Government of The Bahamas with the aim of devising a regional position on climate change mitigation ahead of COP 27 which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt November 6-20, 2022.

Invited participants include the Head of State from the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla,

Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.

The Government of The Bahamas intends to establish the meeting as an annual event and will seek to have it instituted as a regular meeting on calendar of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

“The Bahamas is introducing this conference as we seek to get results in the climate change fight,” Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas said ahead of the talks.

“The Bahamas, along with the region, has lobbied year after year, meeting after meeting, as we sought for the world to acknowledge our vulnerable position.”

“This meeting will position the Caribbean region to take control of our fate and present a unified position to the world at COP27,” Prime Minister Davis added.

The meeting is also intended to establish a Caribbean response exclusive of the conventional Latin

America-Caribbean pairing in order to better reflect common geographical and geo-political issues of Caribbean states.

“What we’ve been lacking regionally is a strategy that would aid us in our negotiation process when we go to the conferences of the parties referred to as COPs,” says Rochelle Newbold, Special Advisor on Climate Change and Environmental Matters and Climate Tsar in the Office of the Prime Minister in The Bahamas.

“This year will be COP number 27 and, as a region, we have never put forward a strategy document or an intent of how we want to deal with the issues that we face within the region collectively,” Newbold added.

The conference agenda will also focus on renewable energy, energy security, climate adaptation, climate financing, loss and damage due to tropical weather systems and establishing a framework for the sale of carbon credits.

Delegates attending COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in December 2021 signed off on a global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and counter global warming by limiting the temperature rise on Earth to a 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

The global warming phenomenon has been linked to more frequent and aggressive hurricanes in the Caribbean, which have subjected the region to billions of dollars in damage and bound countries to burdensome loan commitments.

According to the Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas report issued by the Inter-American Development Bank in March 2022,       damage and losses from Hurricane Dorian amounted to US$3.4 billion, a quarter of the country’s GDP.

A heat wave rolling across the United States and Europe is also being attributed to rising temperatures.

The UK recorded temperatures of over 40°C (104°F) for the first time in July 2022, according to local forecasters.

“We know that if we reach that 1.5°C and we exceed it, everything changes for everybody. While land-locked countries and large continents like South America will experience a change, island-states will experience that change three and four-fold.”

“With this meeting we will have all of those who face the same threat level sitting down together, discussing options, considering what is being suggested and how realistic this will be. For us, this is a fundamental thing that we should have been doing a long time ago,” Newbold said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a Chair’s Summary will be made available detailing the scope of the discussions as well as key messages and ideas that emerge. Additionally, the region plans to launch an initiative at COP27 to advance advocacy efforts on behalf of Caribbean States.

 

Photo Caption: During the weekly Press Briefing, at his Office, on August 4, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis announced that The Bahamas will host the Regional Caribbean Heads of Government Meeting, 16-17 August, 2022 at Baha Mar Resort.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

For Press Inquiries:

Clint Watson, Press Secretary

Office of The Prime Minister

Commonwealth of The Bahamas clintwatson@bahamas.gov.bs

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