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Statement on Baha Mar Proceedings

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Nassau, 02 Jul 2015 – On Monday 29 June 2015, Baha Mar Ltd. and 14 affiliated companies involved in the Baha Mar Resort filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the Courts of Delaware, U.S.A. Baha Mar did this without prior notice to the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and related entities. And, we are advised that no advance notice was given to the China Export Import Bank (“EXIM Bank”), the China State Construction Company and numerous Bahamian employees and contractors.

Fourteen of the affiliated companies are incorporated and doing business in The Bahamas. They own, operate and have an interest in Bahamian assets and businesses, including much of the land comprising the Baha Mar resort.

As the public is aware, the Prime Minister, for the past several months and as recently as 26 June 2015, has been negotiating and communicating with the Developer and the EXIM Bank to ensure sufficient funding to enable the opening of the resort at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Government at all times will continue to act in the best interest of the Bahamian people. The successful completion and opening of Baha Mar is in the national interest and is a matter of national priority.

Of particular importance is that the nearly 2,400 Bahamian employees who have been prejudiced by this bankruptcy proceeding must be paid. Paying the employees without conditions attached would allow negotiation, hearing and resolution of other critically important issues determinative of the future of this project.

To this end, the Office of the Attorney General, on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, yesterday wrote to the Developer of Baha Mar advising that it is the position of the Government that the Developer should pay the Bahamian employees. They should not be used as pawns in negotiations about the future of the project. The Developer was also advised that in the event that Baha Mar or the EXIM Bank was unable or unwilling to pay the workers, the Government will step in and make the payment for this month while negotiations continue.

The court documents in this matter were obtained by the Office of the Attorney General only yesterday, 1st July 2015. The team at the Office of the Attorney General and our international lawyers are carefully considering these documents and the issues that they raise. We are advised that the EXIM Bank, the Project’s largest creditor, has not been served with the documents.

The Government and the EXIM Bank today, believing that the Bahamian Supreme Court should hear from all parties with an interest in this matter, asked the Supreme Court to adjourn the Developer’s application for the Bahamian courts to recognize the Orders of the Delaware court. The Supreme Court ordered that the matter be adjourned to Tuesday 6th July 2015 at 10am; that the Attorney General and EXIM Bank be joined as Respondents; and that Baha Mar give the Attorney General the employee payment details so that the employees may be paid. The Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas stands ready to make the payments.

It is important that the public be made aware that the orders obtained unilaterally by the Baha Mar entities from the United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware were obtained on the basis that matters profoundly affecting the Government and people of The Bahamas will be subject to adjudication in the United States. This would have serious and far-reaching implications for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas as a sovereign nation.

Completion and opening of the Baha Mar resort are matters of paramount importance to The Bahamas. The Government feels very strongly that resolution of the disputes that have delayed the project should occur in the Bahamas, subject to adjudication (to the extent that they cannot be resolved consensually) by Bahamian courts, consistent with the sovereignty of The Bahamas. The Office of the Attorney General and the Government’s international lawyers are therefore examining options that will ensure that the courts of The Bahamas are front and centre in this matter. This would not preclude ancillary orders being sought from foreign courts should such orders be needed – but as a matter of high constitutional principle and in the interests of national sovereignty, it cannot be the other way around.

The Government will continue to keep Bahamians advised of steps taken in this matter. Today for example, the Government has instructed the Department of Information Technology to provide the means by which there will be access to the publicly available court documents in this matter and briefings on court proceedings as and when they occur. This information will be housed on the website of the Office of the Attorney General.

In closing, I cannot say this strongly enough: the Government, led by the Prime Minister, will continue to do everything possible both through negotiations and lawful means to achieve the earliest possible completion of the project and its successful opening, in the national interest.

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Cuban Nationals Apprehended in Bahamian waters

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#TheBahamas, June 24, 2021 – A group of Cuban Nationals are currently being detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Center after they were apprehended in the south west Bahamas by a US Coast Guard vessel earlier this week.

The fifteen individuals were captured after being sighted on Anguilla Cay on Tuesday 22 June. They were taken aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter, CHARLES SEXTON, and handed over shortly after 7:00 pm to the Defence Force patrol craft, HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES, under the command of Senior Lieutenant Jataro McDonald.

The Cubans were subsequently brought into the capital early Thursday morning, where they were handed over to the relevant authorities. The Cuban Embassy has since been notified. 

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force continues to maintain a vigilant presence while patrolling and protecting the territorial waters of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and working with other law enforcement agencies.

Photos shows: Cuban nationals shortly after their arrival at the Defence Force Base, Coral Harbour on Thursday June 24, 2021. (RBDF Photo by Petty Officer Al Rahming)

 (For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and view our Youtube channel)

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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS GOVERNOR ASKS FLORIDA COUNTERPART TO CONSIDER VACCINATION CHECKS FOR CRUISE PASSENGERS

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Governor Albert Bryan Jr. cites concerns around unvaccinated cruise passengers arriving in the Caribbean

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (June 11, 2021) – Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands Albert Bryan Jr. has made a plea to his Florida colleague, Governor Ron DeSantis, to honor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and reconsider the state’s legislation, which could impact the health and wellbeing of millions of Caribbean residents when cruises to the region resume.
As increasing numbers of Americans receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Governor Bryan believes that ensuring the cruise industry reopens with vaccinated passengers is essential to the tourism economies of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean.
Congratulating the Florida governor for his commitment to health, civil liberties and economic revitalization, Governor Bryan called for an exception – one that would enable vaccination checks for outbound passengers on cruise ships, which do most of their business on the open seas and directly impact the multiple Caribbean islands they visit.

“The bill you signed into law (which goes into effect July 1, 2021) may negatively impact the United States Virgin Islands and other port of call destinations in the Caribbean region,” said Governor Bryan, who highlighted CDC approvals for cruise ships to begin sailing this summer from U.S. ports with strict health and safety guidelines, such as the vaccination of 95% of passengers and crew members

With Florida serving as the nucleus and biggest embarkation point for cruises in the United States that dock in the U.S. Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean, the Governor indicated that “our ports … are in direct line of fire,” adding that while the two hospitals in the U.S. Virgin Islands are equipped to care for the Territory’s residents, they lack the resources to address a potentially larger public health crisis. “The lack of infrastructure puts us at a disadvantage for any crisis – health or mother nature. This is true of not only the Virgin Islands but most of the countries in the region,” the Governor penned.
With this reality, the governor expressed his concern for all citizens in the Caribbean region: “This is why I implore you to reconsider with a lens to the negative impact that your legislation may have on residents in the Caribbean … the cruise line and tourism employees, many of whom are of Caribbean descent, are now almost fully vaccinated and ready to get back to work.” 

“Please consider the exemption proposed above so … Caribbean (destinations) can feel safe on arrival and disembarkation of cruise passengers and crew. This will be a big win for the people of the Caribbean and the Caribbean expatriates that live in your state. It is my hope that you can assist us in moving in the same direction while respecting regional health liberties,” he affirmed. Governor Bryan has also shared a communiqué with the leadership of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) inviting support from regional leaders to work with the USVI in finding an agreeable path forward to welcoming cruise ships and their passengers back to the islands in as safe a way as possible.
About the U.S. Virgin IslandsFor more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Instagram (@visitusvi) and Twitter (@usvitourism), and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI). When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel – including on-line check-in – making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.

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Turquoise Gold; how TCI’s slice of the Atlantic Ocean does more than boost Tourism

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#TurksandCaicos, May 18, 2021 – Dig ten feet down and you will find turquoise gold!  Hidden in the porous limestone bedrock of Providenciales is same stuff which has rocketed Turks and Caicos Islands to superstar status when it comes to luxury tourism.  It may surprise Provo residents that the enveloping commodity and pristine natural resource serves another practical purpose; it is the same safe, tasty, reliable drinking water flowing from our taps.

Turks and Caicos’ slice of the Atlantic Ocean is also the life sustaining water used to clean, cook, drink and grow gardens thanks to Provo Water Company, which has been supplying city water since 1997.

As the company commemorated its 10th year of Drinking Water Week, executives agreed to a throw-back to a decade ago with Magnetic Media and it is a refreshing story.

“Ten years ago we had probably 120 miles of pipeline, currently we have 136 miles and there is additional pipeline scheduled for the next two to three years in various areas. Communities like Five Cays, Blue Hills, Chalk Sound – just about everywhere and that is just additional pipeline that we’re putting in to make sure we can connect new customers,” said Robert C. Hall, the personable Managing Director of Provo Water Company.

Mr. Hall, during the interview, often referenced the company’s 20-year development plan; a plan which embraces the liberties of being wholly, a privately owned company. 

Just under a decade ago, Provo Water Company bought the Turks and Caicos Islands government’s 46 per cent stake in the water company for a reported $7.5 million; today it is a healthy set-up which in 2018 peaked at distribution of two million gallons of water in a single day.   

“We are looking at how we are going to supply the islands for the next 20 years and the major component of that plan is a second water plant on the northwest side of the island,” explained Mr. Hall at the Provo Water Company’s accredited laboratory overlooking western Leeward Highway. 

The 20 year plan obviously does more than look at expansion, it also considers contingency.

“The objective is to be able to supply the island from either director if that need arises.  So if we had a catastrophe in Grace Bay, we would be able to supply the island from northwest end and vice versa,” said Mr. Hall, who is an engineer by profession.

Ten years ago there were 3,500 consumers in the system; today there are 5,500 and technology is helping to manage these customers in Providenciales.  Provo Water Company does not tally per recipient of the service; they count their consumers by how many subscribers are signed onto the service.  Which means, there are far more households and businesses than reflected in 2021cumulative customer figure.

“We are able to produce just under four million gallons of water per day.  Currently we are using about – in this particular time – 1.1 to 1.2 million gallons per day.  So we’ve got built in capacity obviously to accommodate any growth in the short to medium term.”

Reverse osmosis of the salty ocean water is the process used to transform our turquoise gold into nourishing, drinking water; a process which requires its own story.  Suffice it to say, what is produced by source and sister company: Turks and Caicos Water, would be meaningless if there was nowhere to store it.

Right now, there are 2.5 million gallons stored at the plant in Grace Bay.  Another one million gallons is held at the storage tank near FortisTCI, the electricity supplier, off Leeward Highway.

“We are currently the owners of the land on the roundabout near CIBC, and there are some additional storage and pumping facilities that will be built there very shortly; we are hoping to start that this year. So that is a part of the project of trying to get water to and from both ends of the island.

We always have to be ahead of the curve, because the demand will always be there and the capacity to supply that demand has to always be ahead.”

In our series, we explore more advancements in the past ten years; including the biggest splash for Provo Water Company:  the introduction of artificial intelligence and technology.

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