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Gomez Addresses OAS Committee

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Declaring that the Government of The Bahamas is currently working on an Anti-corruption Action Plan which will build on existing initiatives, Minster of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez told a committee of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Tuesday, March 17, that the Bahamas Government is aware that the “attainment of values such as morality, trust and ethics in Government involves the integrated effort of the entire society and its constituent elements and institutions – legislative, executive, political, judicial, religious, and civil – all engaging with each other to ensure transparency, accountability, and good governance.”

Minister Gomez was addressing members of the full Committee of Experts of The Follow-up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (MESICIC) during a session held at the OAS to review and approve a report prepared by a sub-group of the Committee in the aftermath of its on-site visit to The Bahamas in September of 2014.

The Bahamas Minister for Legal Affairs expressed his “gratitude for the very kind invitation extended to me to participate in this dialectic on the fight against corruption in Caribbean societies as it relates to the implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.”

“The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, recognising the scourge of corruption both domestic and international, is a signatory to two conventions which seek to promote and facilitate cooperation between States in order to fight against it,” Minister Gomez said. “The first being the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and the second being the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to which The Bahamas signed and ratified on 10th January, 2008.”

Noting that The Bahamas became a State Party to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption in march, 2000, Minister Gomez added, “As you are all aware, the Convention establishes a set of preventative measures; provides for the criminalisation of certain acts of corruption, including transnational bribery and illicit enrichment, and contains provisions to strengthen cooperation on identification, tracing, freezing, seizure and forfeiture of property or proceeds obtained, derived or used in the commission of acts of corruption, among others.”

Referring to the on-site visit by the committee’s sub-group, the Minister of State for Legal Affairs said, “As a part of continuing peer review, The Bahamas hosted its scheduled On-Site visit in September 2014, following the completion of the Questionnaire for the Fourth Round Country review. During this visit, the OAS Representative and Reviewing Country were able to dialogue with representatives from the oversight bodies in The Bahamas that are relevant for preventing, detecting, punishing and eradicating corrupt acts.”

He noted that those Oversight Bodies included:

(1) Auditor General’s Department, which is responsible for financial audits of all Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Corporations.

(2) Public Disclosure Commission, which receives annual financial disclosure from Members of Parliament and Senior Public Officials.

(3) Office of The Attorney-General: with regard to corruption, its general responsibility is to prosecute criminal offences, including corruption related offences.

(4) The Compliance Commission, which supervises financial institutions in relation to the conduct of financial transactions to ensure compliance with provisions of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act.

(5) Financial Intelligence Unit, the agency responsible for receiving, analysing, obtaining and distributing suspicious transaction reports.

(6) The Royal Bahamas Police Force.

(7) Civil Society: Bahamas Bar Association, the professional body responsible for regulation of the legal profession and discipline of attorneys; Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants, the professional body responsible for the regulation and governing of the public accounting sector; Public Accounts Committee; Civil Society Organization.

“For The Bahamas, the On-Site visit formed an integral part of the process by which the implementation was analysed as our Oversight bodies were given the opportunity to refine, clarify and complement the information provided in our Questionnaire,” Minister Gomez said.

Addressing the issues of corruption and transparency, the Bahamas Minister of State for Legal Affairs said that although “corruption is a menace for both developed and developing countries alike, it is particularly relevant for small Island developing states where a lack of transparency can sometimes be systemic.”

“The Bahamas, however, armed with a charge for National development, is reviewing its Freedom of Information Bill to both ensure that transparency is inculcated in our society and to allow citizens greater access to Government information to provide them with the tools to keep public administration transparent and accountable,” Minister Gomez said. “Consistent with The Bahamas’ obligations under both the UNCAC and MESICIC Conventions, the Cabinet has mandated the establishment of an anti-corruption task force.”

He added: “The International perception of the levels of corruption in The Bahamas is found in the most recent global Corruption Perception Index (CPI), published annually by Transparency International. In its 2013 Corruption Perception Index, The Bahamas is ranked 22nd out of 177 Countries that were evaluate obtaining a score of 71/100. To put this number into perspective, this score places The Bahamas just two points behind the United States of America, and second to only Barbados in the Caribbean region.”

Minister Gomez, however, said that notwithstanding the relatively good marks The Bahamas “has garnered in the CPI, we readily confess that there is still a great deal of work to be done and much ground to cover.”

“The Bahamas does not have a comprehensive anti-corruption framework with a single watchdog agency or oversight body (i.e. an Integrity Commission or an Anti-Corruption Commission),” Minister Gomez said. “Instead, corruption has been addressed through a range of measures, including strong democratic traditions, good governance policies, legislative initiatives, vibrant political and civil institutions, a free and vigorous investigative media (including internet media) most of which is under private ownership and control, and a bevy of anti-corruption initiatives nationwide.”

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TCI Hospital’s Magnetic Resonance Imagining (MRI) upgrade is on schedule

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#TurksandCaicos, June 16, 2022 – InterHealth Canada Turks and Caicos Islands Hospital will soon have a new GE SIGNA™ 1.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine, a development expected to significantly reduce wait times for patients visiting the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre.

First, the existing scanner was de-installed and required a crane to deposit the 20,000 pounds machine from the radiology department through a specially-cut hatch at the side waiting room wall for the safe navigation and removal of the old machine.

An intensive undertaking also included removing and replacing the RF Cage, which paves the way for quick installation of the new machine. The TCI Hospital’s RF Cage, which prevents radio frequency noise from entering the room and distorting the image of the MRI scan, is already on-site and is scheduled for installation by the end of June 2022 by the installation team from the United States. The works include the construction of the side walls, panelling, ceiling, illuminated picture and connections to ventilation.

In preparation for the day of delivery of the new MRI Machine by early July 2022, the TCI Hospital have also completed all electrical works.

The next step is the safe installation and connection of all components of the unit by GE contractors, followed by the final internal and external finishes, including the installation of fixtures and fittings such as coil storage cabinets and external cupboards and furniture. Once these last finishing touches are completed and checks completed, the MRI will be operational in early August 2022.

The radiology team have spent the past several months working in a much-reduced space to allow building work in preparation for the new MRI. In addition, the Imaging team have also undergone training and certifications in new software applications and MRI safety, with the IM&T and Biomedical Engineering teams to follow. All staff at the TCI will undergo safety MRI training.

The TCI Hospital is grateful for the support and understanding of the public and TCI Hospital colleagues during the disruption caused by this critical upgrade to the MRI Unit at the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre.

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Major Shortage; White House says hunt is on for Baby Food

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, May 14, 2022 – An Infant formula shortage in the U.S. exacerbated by the formula recall by Abbott Nutrition is  threatening the lives of babies and worrying parents.

Last week 40 percent of  formulas were out of stock in the U.S. White House Press Secretary Jen Pesaki says the FDA is working hard to address the issue.

“What the FDA is doing includes working with major infant formula manufacturers to ensure they’re increasing production, because part of this issue is, of course, making sure there is stock on the shelves and working with the industry right now to optimize their supply lines, product sizes to increase capacity, and prioritizing product lines that are of greatest needs.”

Meanwhile Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) which provides formula and other goods to low income mothers is warning against trying to make formula at home saying too much could go wrong.

“Your baby could suffer long-term harm if they do not get the right blend of nutrition. Even a short period of poor nutrition can be harmful.  Do not try to make more formula by adding extra water. Adding extra water to formula is dangerous and can lead to very serious health problems.”

The Guardian reports that parents who are now traveling over state lines and using Facebook and EBay  to secure formula, describe the situation as a ‘nightmare.’

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Earth Day Immersion at Graceway Communities Marketplace  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 12, 2022 – The second staging of Graceway IGA’s Earth Day celebration was a success. It was hosted by the Graceway Communities (the philanthropic arm of Graceway Supermarkets) in association with the National Trust, Graceway Supermarkets, Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) and Department of Agriculture.

The Market was designed to educate people about the environment, promote conservation, and encourage them to get involved and invest in the planet, act boldly, innovate and implement.

The event was supported by the community and others who came out in their numbers to buy fruits, seedlings, trees, plants, and other earth-friendly items, like ocean-friendly products that were being sold.

The winners of the Graceway Supermarkets Earth Day Art Competition 2022 were also announced. In first place was Chanel Missick from the Mills Institute, second place was Enarij Dickenson from Eliza Simmons Primary, and third place was Mavalicia Mullings from the Mills Institute.

Minister of Environment, Maritime and Disaster Management Josephine Connelly was also present at the celebration.

In giving her address at the event on April 22, Connelly said climate change is real and the Turks and Caicos Islands are low lying areas. As such, “we are susceptible to flood and high seas.” Therefore “the necessary mechanisms must be put in place to cope with what’s going on in our country.”

The Minister noted that the Charter launched at the Climate Change Summit is a guideline to mitigate what is happening in the TCI. She further mentioned that the TCI will be collaborating with all stakeholders and international organizations to unite as one where climate change is concerned.

Minister Connelly congratulated Graceway IGA for hosting the celebration, noting that they should continue to do this because “it is good for us.”

She also encouraged everyone to play their part in Climate Change, stating that the easiest thing to do is to plant a tree.

Travel Designer at Luxury Experiences Turks, and Caicos, Val Kalliecharan, was also present at the Earth Day celebration. He said the initiative was impressive, and Graceway Supermarkets should “keep up the good job.”

The Turks and Caicos National Trust were the charity participant in the Earth Day celebrations.

The Trust expressed its gratitude to the Graceway Supermarkets for partnering with the organization’s mission to protect our environment.

“We are honoured for this recognition and most charitable donations that will help us to continue our important works, entrusted to us by our communities, we implore you to visit our website and become members of TCNT. More importantly, please contact us and find out how you can help us to preserve and protect our Wetlands, our environment and our beautiful by nature TCI,” said the Turks and Caicos National Trust.

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