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BAHAMAS: AG Bethel addresses financial services industry officials on Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill

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#Bahamas, May 23, 2018 – Nassau – The recent introduction of the Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill, 2018 in the House of Assembly, provided the Government of The Bahamas with an opportunity to take a proactive stance against certain global initiatives the country is currently facing with regards to the financial services industry.

And also signaled “the urgency for the Administration to have a meaningful consultation on this issue” with members of the local industry.

Tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, April 25 (2018) by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest, the Bill  — in a nutshell — seeks to provide for the Competent Authority to establish and maintain an electronic database of beneficial ownership details for all corporate and legal entities registered in The Bahamas.

It further seeks to permit search of the database of every corporate and legal entity registered or resident in The Bahamas by a designated person upon the request of a specified authority designated in the Bill.

“It is not set in stone.  The Bill that we tabled is there for your review.  It is there for your input and we will determine whether to proceed with the Bill, to amend the Bill, to shelve the Bill (or) to come with some other structure or arrangement,” Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Carl W. Bethel, QC, told industry insiders and regulators.

“But at the end of the day, the message that I have to say is that we cannot only look at one of the several initiatives and feel that if we satisfy them, it’s going to satisfy all.  These are interrelated and coordinated initiatives being orchestrated through various organs in the European Union particularly, and they must all be addressed simultaneously and comprehensively and not believing we can bunker into one and satisfy that and that that is going to satisfy the rest,” Attorney-General Bethel added.

Addressing a recent Industry Development Series on International Initiatives Impacting Financial Services hosted by The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) in collaboration with Graham Thompson during which he provided a legislative overview of the Bill, Attorney-General Bethel said the issue of Beneficial Ownership, while not directly tied to the BEPS Initiative (Base Erosion Profit Sharing) is directly tied to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) position.

Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) refers to tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations.  Under the inclusive framework, over 100 countries and jurisdictions are collaborating to implement the BEPS measures and tackle BEPS.

Senator Bethel said there is a “resonance between the two.”

“I speak about the ‘Concert of Europe,’ which was a historical relationship, and event maybe 200 years ago.  It is the same concert now in terms of coordination between powers, coordination of initiatives, coordination of the whole strategy.

“It’s one picture, one initiative, but in different forms (and) so even though BEPS isn’t obviously concerned with beneficial ownership, if you read the criteria notes, it starts off by saying that this is aimed and targeted at opaque offshore structures.

“So what causes (those structures) to be opaque? Lack of accessible beneficial ownership information; lack of information as to how this company in The Bahamas relates to that company in the Cayman Islands, relates to that company in Switzerland because the structural relationship between these entities all around the globe, is opaque and it is through the initiatives of beneficial ownership that they seek to clarify that opaqueness for their purposes.

“And so even though beneficial ownership regimes are becoming a greater focus of the FATF, we can’t only believe that it is only the FATF that requires clarity as to beneficial ownership and accessibility to beneficial ownership information.”

Mr. Bethel said the initiatives began as early as 2014 when the G20 endorsed the international importance of financial transparency, particularly transparency of beneficial ownership, legal persons and legal arrangements to prevent the misuse of corporate entities.

Subsequently, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors requested that the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group provide concrete actions the G20 would take in order to lead by example with respect of beneficial ownership transparency and the implementation of the relevant Financial Action Task Force standards.

“And so once again, it’s a host of different organizations in a sense, fulfilling each other’s prophecies.”

Attorney-General Bethel said The Bahamas, like many of its regional and global counterparts, is engaged in a titanic struggle to reposition a major part of their economies and to grapple with the ever changing and the ever-increasing demands of the world.

“This is a struggle that affects not only The Bahamas, but every country in this region and indeed every financial centre in the world,” the Attorney-General said. “I had reason at an earlier briefing to point to the travails similar to ours affecting a major centre known as Luxembourg and it’s not just us, and [so] I suppose we can take some small comfort in that.”

 

By: Matt Maura (BIS)

 

 

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CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award 

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#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force congratulates Commodore Retired Leon Livingstone Smith, who was a recipient of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021. 

During a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street, Commodore Smith was presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith. Also in attendance were his daughter, Mrs. Italia Seymour, and the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King.

Commodore Smith was one of sixteen other deserving individuals recognized on National Heroes Day for the vast contributions they made to the development of the country. The first Bahamian Officer to be appointed as Commander Defence Force, he is the longest-serving Commodore to serve this office from 1983 to 1997.

Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and accolades, and his career in public life spanned over forty years, and on September 19, 2014, an RBDF Legend Class Vessel bearing his name was commissioned. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is truly grateful for the devoted services of Commodore Smith to the organization and his country.

Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King extends congratulations on his behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Senior Enlisted, and Junior Enlisted members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to Commodore Retired Leon Smith, on his great accomplishment.

 

Header:  Commodore Retired Leon Smith being presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

Insert: Commodore Retired Leon Smith along with recipients of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

(RBDF Photos by Able Seaman Paul Rolle II)

 

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

-rbdf- 

#GuardOurHeritage 

#MarlinSpike 

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