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Small business license fees in the Grand Bahama Port Area may soon change

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#Bahamas, January 30, 2018 – Grand Bahama – Small business license fees may soon fall in line with the rest of The Bahamas, said Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson on Friday.  Minister Thompson was addressing the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce Annual Installation of Officers and Directors 2017-2018.

Former GB Chamber President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest, installed the new officers.  Minister Thompson apologized for the absence of the Prime Minister, who was in Andros for the National Memorial Service for the plane crash victims.  As the government believes in reform, modernization and transformation, soon after coming to office, an Ease of Doing Business Committee was appointed. They have made recommendations which are being reviewed and carried out.

“I commend the Deputy Prime Minister and his team for the improvements already made.  It should also be noted that we intend for the changes to also apply to Freeport.  As an example discussions have begun with the Grand Bahama Port Authority to express the Government’s desire to bring business license fees for very small businesses on the same level as the government’s fee, which is $100.   It doesn’t seem right that a person wanting to start this type of business in the Port area has to pay sometimes 10 times as much than everyone else in the rest of The Bahamas.   In addition we continue to work out arrangements for the One Stop Shop for Investment in Freeport.

“Small-and-medium sized Bahamian businesses are a critical part of our economy.  These businesses employ thousands of Bahamians.  They are critical for economic growth.

“To promote the ease of doing business for such enterprises, at the end of last year, after consultation with the Central Bank, the Government announced the relaxation of Exchange Controls on capital transactions, namely on capital (investment) and current account (trade) transactions.

“This was a reform long overdue.  These changes come into effect as of 1 February 2018.   Without prior reference to the Central Bank, Bahamian-owned businesses will be allowed to maintain operating deposit accounts with up to $100,000 in foreign currency at domestic commercial banks.

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“These accounts will have to be funded exclusively from revenues earned in foreign currency.   Central Bank approval will continue to be required for accounts with balances of more than $100,000 in foreign currency.”

Minister Thompson outlined another reform whereby upon application to the Central Bank, Bahamians and residents will be able to have foreign currency denominated deposits or investment assets outside of The Bahamas, or bring it back to the country and it remain in the same foreign currency.

“No penalties will be imposed on regularized accounts and investments.  The owners of deposit facilities will be allowed to use the resources to finance domestic transactions, without restriction.

“Prohibitions will exist against either funding or augmenting these facilities with proceeds converted from Bahamian dollars.”  He further stated, “Last year we passed the Commercial Enterprise Act, which promises enormous benefits to our economy.

“The intent of this Act is to offer incentives to Bahamian and international investors who establish businesses in the Bahamas, which will help to diversify the economy, and to create higher paying jobs and long-term job securit“Under this legislation, investors in captive insurance, reinsurance, arbitration, wealth management, computer programming, maritime trade, nanotechnology, biomedical industries, data storage, call centers, software design and writing will be given a number of concessions and incentives.

“Another reform that has already been announced is the creation of an independent board to review applications for work permits and citizenship.  This will allow for less interference and more openness in the process of obtaining citizenship.”

The Minister said revitalizing Grand Bahama has been a priority of the government since the General Election in May, 2017, and stating that there is a long way to go, he added that the road to recovery has begun.

“To boost growth and employment we must stimulate domestic and foreign investment, as well as opportunities for large-scale and small- and medium-sized businesses.”

Listing some of the things done in an attempt to boost the local economy, Minister Thompson said the government negotiated the completion of a Letter of Intent on the sale of the Grand Lucayan Hotel, and is currently working diligently to complete the sale of the Grand Lucayan and Memories property.

“After they are reopened, the economy of Grand Bahama will improve significantly, including with a tremendous increase in employment and related business and economic opportunities.

“We also successfully negotiated with Bahamas Paradise on the return of the Grand Celebration, and the introduction of a new vessel, the Grand Classica, which will bring additional stopover visitors and more opportunities to Grand Bahama in April.  We learned the painful effects of not having the Celebration vessel for a few months and therefore looking forward to the increased benefits of having both vessels.

“In conjunction with Ministry of Tourism, and our Minister of Finance DPM we also negotiated an airlift agreement with Sunwing, and now have the return of Vacation Express. It has been announced that a total of eight non-stop flights departing from various US cities, will begin their flight schedules in May 2018.”

Scheduled to begin in May are flights from Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Newark, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Dallas. These will be operated by Swift Air LLC., and the Ministry of Tourism projects a potential 16,800 passengers.  Additionally, negotiations ongoing with the “Ginn Property” in West End, along with a new investment in East End involving an oil refinery. This announcement, said the Minister, will be made at the appropriate time.

Going over the advancements made in the area of technology, Minister Thompson told Chamber members that a Grand Bahama Technology Hub Steering Committee has been formed to establish Grand Bahama as a technology hub.  Carnival Corporation is already assembling their Ocean Medallion Concierge System, and Grand Bahamians have been hired and are being trained.

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“The Bahamas is also currently developing programs for block chain-based solutions, fin-tech and crypto-currency companies, and we intend to promote block chain as a sub-industry within ICT.”

Touting joint efforts between the government and the Chamber, Minister Thompson acknowledged the government’s summer job program where some 500 young people were placed in local businesses.  There was also the Business to Business Initiative which began on September 28, 2017 designed to provide business opportunities to budding entrepreneurs.

“The initiative exposed existing entrepreneurs and small businesses to opportunities which exist already at the larger industrial companies. The first to participate were the Grand Bahama Shipyard and Buckeye. We intend to continue this initiative with other major companies.

“The Apiary Project began on 24 October which will help 30 young people to enter the honey production business here in Grand Bahama.  These young people began training on the 2nd January 2018.

Each participant will receive a stipend during a 14-week training program, and will have access to funding and mentorship from Bahamas Development Bank.

“We look forward to your partnership with the our office and Deputy Prime Minister, Port Authority and the University of the Bahamas for the launch of the Small Business Development Center, which would provide support and research resources for entrepreneurs.  We have also been most grateful for your support in our GB Micro and Small Business Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Incentive Program launched last year.”

Minister Thompson said they will be calling on the business community once again on February 17th at the Ministry of Labour Job fair, where he hopes they will not only participate, but hire as many people as possible.

In closing, the Minister said, “The Chamber continues to be a great partner and [I] look forward to an even closer relationship.  We have a talented creative and vibrant private sector.  I believe you have what we need to reignite Grand Bahama’s economy.  Within you lies the talent, ability, resources, and capacity we need for success. We as a government must create the environment that will motivate you to expand, invest and progress.

“I encourage you to seriously look at reinvesting, renovating, expanding, reshaping, re-tooling, and rehiring. Fixing Grand Bahama will not be easy or quick but I believe we all have what it takes and I stress, we all.”

 

By: Robyn Adderley

Photo caption: Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson.

(BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

 

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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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