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Government Successful at Issuing a Benchmark US$750 Million Bond Issue

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#Bahamas, November 18, 2017 – Nassau – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest gave details in the House of Assembly of the Government’s recent success at issuing a benchmark US$750 million bond issue, which has been opened to the markets and priced, and is expected to close on November 21, 2017.    He made the statement on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

DPM Turnquest also took the time to set the record straight in response to numerous reports in the Press and social media about the transaction, which characterised it as “lacking in transparency and fiscal prudence.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth.    There was absolutely nothing devious, surreptitious or imprudent about this transaction or the manner in which it was handled.    There are certain ways these transactions are handled in the international market, and we are appropriately guided by our investors in this regard,” he told the Members of Parliament.

DPM Turnquest explained that all of the Government’s financing activities are conducted within the constraints of its approved borrowing authorities, and shaped and informed by pragmatic debt management strategies.

“These strategies, for example, take into consideration the size and currency composition of the Government’s financing requirements; the identification, analysis and preferences of potential funding sources—whether it is best to source the debt in domestic or foreign currency; and, of course, with due consideration to market liquidity, cost and risk factors.

“To be sure, such analysis and evaluation requires interaction with other agencies—especially our bankers, and most certainly the Central Bank.   As is customary, we collaborate very closely with the Central Bank, which manages the issuance of government paper in the domestic market, for advice on domestic liquidity conditions—how much excess loanable funds are in the system, and what is the appetite of the main investors in government paper—the banks and institutional investors (pension funds and the insurance companies) to increasing their holdings.”

He said these factors, including foreign reserves considerations, not only influence the timing and size of potential issues, but also determine decisions on whether borrowings are undertaken in domestic or foreign currency.    Such decisions involve serious and considered deliberations by the Government in managing the country’s debt.   The DPM noted that during the 2017/18 Budget Communication, two borrowing resolutions were approved by the House.

The first covered the additional funding approval of $400 million to settle the outstanding arrears for FY2016/17 and the second was in respect of FY2017/18, and provided for financing to cover the overall budget deficit, estimated at $322.3 million, and refinancing/debt repayment obligations, which are now projected at $600.2 million.

He said, “Therefore, while the total borrowing envelope under these two approved resolutions totaled approximately $1,322.7 million, the increment to the outstanding debt was and remains $722.3 million, as the $600.2 million in refinancing/debt repayment would have a neutral impact on debt levels.”

DPM Turnquest also noted that it is instructive to mention, that, at the beginning of each Fiscal Year, one of the first things that the Government sets out to do, through its Treasury Department, is to develop monthly cash flow projections—based on how it perceives the evolution of revenue performance and the timing of its outlays.

“These projections are calibrated, on an ongoing basis, to ensure that there are sufficient funds available to meet the Government’s budgetary requirements, as and when needed.

“It is now common knowledge that there were pressing funding needs at the end of the past fiscal year and the outset of the current period, which placed an urgent requirement on policymakers to identify immediate funding sources to meet these obligations.”

He said after an evaluation of the funding options, the Government moved expeditiously to source several short-term bridging facilities, which included US Dollar bank credits ($450 million) and domestic treasury bills and bank advances ($300 million).

“I want to emphasize that these facilities were always contemplated to be short-term in nature, with a subsequent “terming out”, i.e., lengthening of the maturities to achieve a more favourable debt servicing profile. And having considered conditions in the domestic market, and the number of significant rollovers contemplated, the intention was to explore the possibility of rolling up these short-term credits into an international bond issue.”

The bonds, characterized as a 10-Year weighted average life bond, was priced at a coupon or interest rate of 6.00 per cent, which is some 250 basis points above the pricing obtained in the Government’s last bond issuance in 2014 when it enjoyed investment grade credit status.

It is to be repaid in three equal annual installments, commencing on November 21, 2026, and with a final maturity on November 21, 2028.   T he 6.00 per cent yield is equivalent to a spread of 362.1 basis points above the US Treasury’s 10-year benchmark bond.

The Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and RBC Capital Markets, LLC. managed the offer as joint book runners.

By: Llonella Gilbert (BIS)

 

 

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Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer

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Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer for men in The Bahamas.  It is highly curable — if you know it’s there!

 

November 30, 2021 – Men…how often do you perform a self-exam to check yourselves for testicular cancer?

While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, young men aren’t exempt – in fact, testicular cancer occurs most often in young and middle-aged men. The good news is, it can usually be treated successfully.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on your testicle. But that’s not the only sign of this disease.

Men who have testicular cancer may experience several different kinds of symptoms, says oncologist Timothy Gilligan, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in treating testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer most frequently strikes men younger than age 44, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men ages 15 to 34. It is almost always curable if found early, Dr. Gilligan says, and it is usually curable even when at a later stage. So it’s important to know signs and symptoms.

Here, Dr. Gilligan says, are five possible signs of testicular cancer you might not know about:

5 Testicular Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t a Lump  – Know what to look for and catch it early

  1. A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
  2. Change in testicle size or firmness.Certain types of testicular tumors can reduce testosterone or increase estrogen in the body, which can result in a change in testicle size or firmness.
  3. Swollen legs.When a tumor spreads to the lymph node, it can constrict blood flow in the veins and result in a blood clot. The clots often occur in the legs, which causes them to swell. You might even experience blood clot symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
  4. Lower back pain and shortness of breath.These are symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind your stomach. Shortness of breath also may signal that the cancer has spread to your lungs, which may make it harder for air to move in and out.
  5. Breast growth or tenderness.In rare cases, hormone changes also can cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue. Some tumors can secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away, Dr. Gilligan says. If your physician diagnoses you with epididymitis or orchitis and the symptoms do not resolve quickly with antibiotics, request an ultrasound to evaluate for a testicular tumor.

“While up to 95 percent of men with testicular cancer are cured, it’s important to get care quickly if you’re experiencing symptoms because testicular cancers usually grow fast,” Dr. Gilligan says. “If there is disease, the earlier it is treated, the greater than chance for success.”

 

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Signs of Recovery in East Grand Bahama Habitats Scarred by Hurricane Dorian

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#TheBahamas, November 30, 2021 – In the pinelands and mangroves that make East Grand Bahama so distinctly unique, nature is replenishing itself from the massive destruction of Hurricane Dorian. The restoration slowly taking shape is evidence that the death and devastation that the massive storm left behind is giving way to new life, according to biodiversity experts and scientists who recently conducted field assessments.

The biodiversity consultants with the Implementing Land, Water and Ecosystems Management (IWEco) in The Bahamas project have concluded a new phase of field surveys in East Grand Bahama. The team assessed pinelands and wetlands, collecting detailed information on the habitats and the life forms they support for a biodiversity inventory that will be published as part of the project.

“We have yet to see a standing pine tree that remains alive. In different types of pine habitats, however, you’re seeing different rates of recovery, with seedlings beginning to be established and these seedlings are typically anywhere from eight to 12 inches tall, and some we’ve seen are two to three feet tall,” Mark Daniels, biodiversity consultant with BRON Ltd. said.

The biodiversity team spent more than a week conducting point counts, walking transects and vegetation plots to better understand the recovery process of pine and wetland areas in East Grand Bahama since Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

“The external fringes of those mangrove systems remain dead. However, in the more protected interior regions of these mangrove patches you are seeing mangroves returning and those creek systems where you have mangrove habitats that are inland and protected from the full force of the sea, are also recovering and looking very healthy,” Daniels said.

The biodiversity team also saw several species of wetland and forest birds as well as endemics like the Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Woodstar as well as pine saplings that are growing in areas where the trees were dead. Information on the wildlife in East Grand Bahama will also be included in the biodiversity inventory that will be made public.

“We are seeing a lot more birds in the area but most of them are winter migrants from North America coming to The Bahamas and their presence increases our avian fauna by over 50 per cent,” said Scott Johnson, biodiversity consultant with BRON Ltd. “What’s also interesting is that some of the highest diversity of birds we are seeing is in patches of coppice areas in East Grand Bahama. These birds are occupying sites that have a variety of plant species that are producing flowers and some fruits so they have food resources.”

Although the Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Woodstar have been observed in the area, other pineland species of birds have not been seen since Hurricane Dorian in 2019, he added.

“I fear that they may have been extirpated from the East Grand Bahama area. Until that pineland ecosystem comes back which may allow for new immigration of birds in that area, chances are that we may not see Bahama Warblers, Olive-Capped Warblers, or Cuban Emeralds in that area for a while,” Johnson said.

The IWEco The Bahamas project is part of a larger, regional undertaking for the Caribbean funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). For The Bahamas, the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), the Forestry Unit, the Ministry of Public Works and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are the leading partners.

The work that is being done towards creating a biodiversity inventory is pivotal as it will not only benefit the natural environment but involve citizens more closely in sustaining it. East Grand Bahama has a diverse ecosystem in its plant and animal life as well as its habitats. Investigating and gathering a record of all these life forms is a key part of developing the systems and driving the adaptation to make the environment stronger.

“The Biodiversity Inventory conducted under the IWEco project and its respective findings show significant signs of ecosystem regeneration, and therefore signs of hope as it relates to Hurricane Dorian recovery,” said IWEco The Bahamas National Project Coordinator Melissa Ingraham. “The inventory, amongst other project aspects, such as the development of an ecotourism sector and capacity building opportunities will be incorporated into a watershed management plan to sustainably guide resource use and management at a community based level.”

The project aims to develop and implement of integrated systems that support ecosystem health and strengthen national monitoring and evaluation systems. Other goals include policy, legislative and institutional reforms to increase capacity for sustainable natural resource management and deepening the knowledge that is key for effective stakeholder involvement.

 

Header: Gathering information for the biodiversity inventory from the pineland forest near West Gap Creek.

1st Insert: These dead mangroves at Ridge Creek are among the lingering signs of Hurricane Dorian’s trek across East Grand Bahama.

2nd insert: Members of the IWEco The Bahamas biodiversity team visit the mangroves at Ridge Creek where there are signs of recovery.

 

Press Release: IWECO

 

 

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MOSSUD to adopt ‘You are Somebody’ Programme in early 2022

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#TheBahamas, November 30, 2021 – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe said his Ministry will adopt the “You are Somebody” Programme within the first quarter of the year 2022 as a means of ensuring that the community of persons with disabilities are included in all aspects of society.

Minister Wilchcombe was addressing the Church Service held (Sunday, November 28 at Living Waters Kingdom Ministries) to officially launch Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. The Week runs November 27 to December 4 under the theme: ‘Inclusion for All.’

Inclusion, Minister Wilchcombe said, has been more of a word, than an action.

“The Bible tells us that our gifts open doors,” Minister Wilchcombe told his inhouse and virtual audience. “The Bible didn’t say that you have to be able or living with a disability; the Bible says that all of us have gifts and that we should all utilize our gifts, and leadership must do what it can to lift those gifts and make them useful for communities, for societies, for our country.

“My purpose here today is to tell you that over the next several months, all of the things you thought were left, were gathering dust, will be lifted, will become part of the dialogue in this country and will become a part of the action taken by the Ministry responsible for Social Services and Urban Development (to ensure inclusion). I thank you. I appreciate you. You are somebody.”

Speaking formally for the very first time (outside of the House of Assembly) as Minister regarding one of the units that fall under his remit, Minister Wilchcombe told members of the community that the “You are Somebody” Programme (the name is adopted from the words of U.S Civil Rights icon, the Reverend Jesse Jackson) will help to address some of the many issues still facing the community of persons with disabilities in The Bahamas.

“I have a difficulty with the fact that so many of you, in general, feel marginalized; I have a difficulty because you are not to be considered separate and different in our communities; I have  a difficulty because inclusion has been more of a word than action, that there is still discrimination, that we have not done some of the things that we were supposed to do legislatively; that you still do not have transportation that you ought to have.

“We still have not created the Foundation that was intended to raise funding. The truth is we have not fulfilled the agenda, we have not done what we ought to have done, and so I have come to tell you that my Ministry will be adopting, in the first quarter of next year, a simple programme for the disabled and the programme will be titled –  and I borrow the words of Jesse Jackson – ‘You are Somebody’ and we will do all we must to ensure that you are included.”

Minister Wilchcombe said the Ministry will “lead by example.”

“I am going to ensure that at the Ministry itself, that we lead by example. Those who wish to discriminate and do not wish to provide jobs and employment, well I don’t see why you can’t be receptionists; I don’t see why you can’t be working throughout the Ministry; I don’t see why the Ministry cannot set the example and cause others to follow. And so, we shall lead. My purpose is to ensure that you have an appreciation that you are loved, and that you are appreciated,”

Minister Wilchcombe also shared the stories of his brother, Richard, whom he said is autistic, and his best friend, a female, who spent most of her life in a wheelchair.

“What I found most interesting about both is that they have never been excluded, always included, always individuals who were present with incredible capacity, talent – in fact my brother always teases me that he can do things I can’t,” Minister Wilchcombe added.

 

By Matt Maura

BIS

 

 Photo Captions: 

Header: Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe addressing Sunday’s Church Service that officially launched Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. The Church Service was held at Living Waters Kindom Ministries. The Week runs November 27 – December 4.

1st insert: Bahamas Ambassador to CARICOM, Her Excellency Leslie Miller-Brice (third left), joined the community of persons with disabilities for Sunday’s Church Service launching Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas.  Her Excellency is pictured with (from left): Mr. Kendrick Rolle, Disability Affairs Division; Miss Christina Fernander, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities; Mrs. Desire Clarke, Deputy Secretary, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (to Her Excellency’s left); Mrs. Annette Lunn, Sign Language Interpreter/Community of Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing; Mr. Kelvin Lunn and Miss Tamera Lunn.

2nd insert: Mrs. Annette Lunn provides Sign Language Interpretation for the community of persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing during Sunday’s Church Service. Sign Language Interpreters help to bridge the communication gap for the community. Sign Languages are an extremely important communications tool for members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

 

 

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