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Shareholders Applaud Bank Execs, Directors at AGM for $53 Million Profit Commonwealth Bank ‘Most Profitable of All Banks’ Execs tell Shareholders



Nassau, 22 Jun 2015 – For the second consecutive year, Commonwealth Bank reported it was ‘the most profitable of all (retail) banks’ with net earnings of $53.3 million, $16 million higher than its nearest competitor and up from $48.7 million over the year before.

That news of a 7% increase in profits topped a list of positive performance figures for fiscal 2014 reported by the bank at its annual general meeting at SuperClub Breezes May 27, a standing room only event with the crowd applauding and breaking out in cheers more than 30 times.

“Commonwealth Bank continues to be the leader in personal banking services and remains focused on personal banking,” Chairman William B. Sands, Jr., told the packed room, noting that other banks were now “placing more emphasis” on the personal banking platform that has been the core of Commonwealth Bank’s business model. Commonwealth Bank has built its reputation and its success on granting consumer loans for purchases, education, medical and special purpose applications, reducing the risk associated with hefty capital commercial lending and enhancing loyalty. Its average loan value is $17,155.

This was the third time in four years that Commonwealth Bank’s profits exceeded $50 million, profits it has shared with shareholders since it went public with an oversubscribed share offering in 2000. With more than 6,000 shareholders, Commonwealth Bank is the second largest publicly-held company (largest publicly held financial services company) in The Bahamas and accounts for 22% of all trading on the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX). In 2014, the bank paid $.06 per share in quarterly dividends plus an extraordinary dividend for a total of $.30 per share. Equity earnings per share were $0.49.

In other performance figures, the bank reported gross revenues of $139.3 million and total assets of nearly $1.5 billion. The bank’s efficiency ratio, 48.4%, was the sole declining indicator, a result, said AVP & Group Financial Controller, Mrs. Gladys Fernander, of a $5 million increase in business license fees and an increase of 85% in fees overall.

Despite those increases, the bank maintained its commitment to community with contributions totaling $400,000, much of that going to education, including a long-standing partnership with the Ministries of Education and Social Services to provide school backpacks and supplies for thousands of students. The bank’s outreach stretches from the youngest child to the aged in a senior citizens’ home, from the teen mother who wants to earn her high school diploma and find employment to the college student benefitting from a scholarship for future leaders of The Bahamas.

Like other financial institutions, the bank’s internal focus was on managing lending and curtailing bad loans during an economy that continues to be challenging. That focus paid off. Tougher lending restrictions and more stringent collections resulted in a substantial reduction in loan loss impairment with total write-offs of $28.4 million, an 18.6% improvement over 2013 when the bank reported $34.9 million in write-offs. Both years placed Commonwealth Bank’s loan losses far below competitors’ and shareholders were reminded that while some banks in The Bahamas announced in 2014 that they were closing branches, Commonwealth Bank had expanded services and hours and now offers Saturday banking in six locations.

Non-interest income, mostly earned from its subsidiary Laurentide Insurance & Mortgage Co Ltd, stood at $14.5 million.

Total capital was reported at year-end at $294 million, exceeding regulatory requirements by 64% and contributing to share value. Market capitalization rested at $732.4 million and the bank paid out $30 million in dividends.
The domestic capital market responded to those positive performance indicators driving share value up 8.5% in 2014 to close at $7.50.

In looking toward the future, the chairman said Commonwealth Bank would maintain its interest in the consumer market, control loan growth, continue to improve its efficiency in operations as well as in collections and recovery, and devote resources to staff development and succession planning. He hinted at changes in the long-serving board of directors, some of whom have served for more than 30 years. Mr. Sands also said the bank would not be constructing or opening any new branches in the coming year, but would introduce a chip enabled VISA debit card and would also enhance its international MasterCard products with the high-security, chip- enabled card in 2016, to complete its array of MasterCard/SunCard offerings. This represented a significant investment for the Bank.
Given continuing high unemployment and slow growth, Mr. Sands said, cautious optimism will guide the economic outlook until BahaMar opens.

And, according to Commonwealth Bank President Ian Jennings, in such a challenging and competitive environment, “it is critical for service-oriented businesses like Commonwealth Bank to focus on constantly upgrading how they interact with customers, how fast they respond, how well they develop products consumers need.
“We have no foreign parent, we have to protect ourselves, our staff and our shareholders,” said Mr. Jennings, “That is why we take a conservative approach. We never lose sight of the fact that we are a Bahamian bank for every Bahamian and we want you to know that your all-Bahamian bank was once again the first choice of Bahamians for personal banking services and the top performing bank in The Bahamas.”

Shareholders returned the Board of Directors unanimously. Those directors include William B. Sands, Jr., Ian A. Jennings, Rupert W. Roberts, Jr., Roland C. Symonette, Vaughn W.T. Higgs, George C. Culmer, Earla J. Bethel, Larry R. Gibson Marcus C.R. Bethel and Robert D.L. Sands.

Commonwealth Bank with more than 525 employees operates 11 branches in New Providence, Abaco and Grand Bahama. A record crowd of nearly 500 persons attended the annual general meeting for the year January 1 – December 31, 2014.

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COVID Vaccine mandate expires Dec 31, TCIG stalled on ending it sooner



By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff


#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos does not seem primed to do away with its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for entry to the islands just yet, Magnetic Media learned from Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and Human Services.

Robinson maintained that “As usual all remaining regulations are continuously under review. Current regulations expire December 31st.”

Despite them being under constant review, the Minister gave no indication that the Turks and Caicos Islands Government would accelerate any change to the rule.

The question though, is why? The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has continuously stated that it is following the science and the UKs lead when it comes to the country’s Covid-19 response.  The UK dropped its vaccine mandate for entry back in March as the country was coming off of the Omicron wave and dozens of other countries have done so since.

In terms of the science, not only does vaccination not stop the virus from spreading to vulnerable islanders, the earliest vaccines and boosters have notoriously little efficacy against the circulating variants.

In addition, there is little evidence to suggest that allowing unvaccinated individuals within borders has a negative effect on that country’s Covid case count.

Not only are the islands missing out on a major chunk of their source markets who are unvaccinated, homeowners who are unvaccinated have not been able to return to or see their property investments since the mandate was adopted in September 2021.

Deputy Premier E Jay Sanders had explained that, “thanks to the country’s over performing tourism sector when the decision is made to pull back that requirement it will be done not out of pressure but with the TCI people in mind.”

It’s unclear what the reasoning behind keeping the mandate is when it now has been proven to provide so little protection.

Additionally, it was explained that multiple attempts by the Ministry of Health to secure avenues for unvaccinated homeowners in the Turks and Caicos to visit their properties have been rebuffed at the Cabinet level.

Robinson was addressing the continued COVID-19 vaccine requirement for travel to the TCI which blocks unvaccinated tourists and homeowners from entering the island.

“On several occasions, I have presented possible pathways for homeowners to be able to visit their properties outside of a full repeal of the vaccine entry mandate and each time there was not full support for it moving forward in Cabinet,” he said.

Magnetic Media has spoken to irate and broken-hearted  homeowners who have not been able to visit their properties in a year despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and other fees to have a home on the islands.

The Health Ministry however says his team is now preparing a cabinet paper to weigh the pros and cons of continuing with the vaccine mandate.  Robinson said that paper has not made the agenda as yet, taking a back seat to more pressing issues including the passing of Hurricane Fiona.

The paper should reach cabinet “soon” but this is not a guarantee that the measure will be dropped. Robinson also defended the TCIG’s current policy.

“Based on the numbers I have received from the (tourism) industry to date, being one of the few only remaining destinations with a vaccine mandate doesn’t seem to be hurting our projected occupancy rates for the months of December, January, and February across all segments of the Industry.”

The issue of why the vaccine mandate persists are heightened due to major announcements in recent days including, Joe Biden, US president declaring that the Coronavirus Pandemic “is over”; Canada moving to end its vaccine entry requirement on September 30 and The Bahamas calling off mandatory testing as of September 22 and rescinding the mask rule (for most public places) on October 1.

The mandatory vaccine measure came into effect in September 2021 prior to the widespread emergence of Omicron and lowered vaccine efficacy.  It is also a mandatory requirement for guest workers in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Turks and Caicos Islands Rebounding Quickly from Hurricane Fiona



#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos Islands is working around the clock to quickly rebound from the effects of Hurricane Fiona, which hit the islands as a Category 3 storm on Tuesday, September 20th 2022.  By 11:50PM EDT of the same day, the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) advised that hurricane warning for the Turks and Caicos Islands was discontinued and stated that the National All-Clear was given by the Department of Meteorology.

Preliminary assessments indicate that significant damage across the country was minimal.  Major airport updates are as follows:

  • The Providenciales International Airport re-opened on Wednesday, September 21st 2022 for all flight operations.
  • The South Caicos Airport re-opened on Thursday, September 22nd 2022 for all flight operations
  • The JAGS McCartney International Airport in Grand Turk re-opened on Thursday, September 22nd for emergency and medical flights
  • Airport operations on North Caicos and Salt Cay remain closed until further notice

Carnival Cruise Line is currently working alongside the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to conduct preliminary assessments of the port facility at the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Once completed, all necessary measures will be taken to have the port operating as soon as possible.

Yesterday, during the briefing in the NEOC, the Acting Governor, Her Excellency Anya Williams advised that Public Service in Providenciales would re-open on Thursday, September 22nd 2022 – restoring normal service delivery.

“We thank God that the Turks and Caicos Islands was able to hold strong through Hurricane Fiona – with only minor damages and without any lives lost.  The following day after receiving the National All-Clear from the NEOC, the hub to the Turks and Caicos Islands – the Providenciales International Airport – was re-opened and international flights arrived” stated Minister of Tourism, Hon. Josephine Connolly.  “But while we were extremely fortunate, we acknowledge that some of our neighbouring countries were not and our thoughts and prayers are with them”, added Hon. Connolly.

“A day after Hurricane Fiona, we were already welcoming guests back to the home of the World’s Best Beach, Providenciales”, stated Acting Director of Tourism, Mary Lightbourne. “Resorts and hotels in Provo are fully operational, so we encourage guests to keep their travel plans to visit. And in the upcoming days, we will welcome visitors to our sister islands” added Lightbourne.

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Turks & Caicos Coasts still ‘beautiful’ despite Hurricane Fiona



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – Despite its strength Hurricane Fiona thankfully did no major damage to the TCIs coast according to Roddy McLeod, Reef Specialist at the Department of Environment and  Coastal Resources.

He explained that the DECR has been working with DDME to assess community impacts. So far, no significant erosion has been observed around Providenciales but the seas and sea-beds were definitely disturbed.

McLeod said “Sediments remain in suspension. This will have impacted our reefs and will continue to impact our reefs until the seas settle. Sediments will likely settle on marine habitats and negatively impact them. Some sand bars have been moved so mariners should take extra care.”

Cleanup operations and restorations continue across the islands in the aftermath of Fiona, which hit the islands as a category three hurricane September 19-20.

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