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BAHAMAS: FTRA to meet country’s deficiencies regarding FATF recommendations

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#Bahamas, May 17, 2018 – Nassau – The Bahamas’ Financial Transactions Reporting Act, 2018 (FTRA), will meet all of the deficiencies that were identified in respect to the country’s compliance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Carl W. Bethel, QC, said Wednesday.

Addressing a stakeholder meeting with industry regulators and members of the Bahamas Bar Association, Attorney-General Bethel said the Act will, in a broad sense, be the “heart of the system of compliance and due diligence that will henceforth be the standard of conduct to be expected of all participants in financial services.”

The stakeholder meeting was hosted by the Office of the Attorney-General, in conjunction with the Bahamas Bar Association, as part of the 2018 Legislative Series. Attorney-General Bethel provided an overview of the FTRA during Session I.

The Bahamas was found to be deficient in 22 of the 40 recommendations included in the FATF’s Mutual Evaluation for late 2015. Attorney-General Bethel said the present Administration received notice in late May, beginning of June, 2017, and has been working assiduously to correct the situation ever since.

“You only need to be deficient in 21 of them to be where we are today,” Attorney-General Bethel said. “One of the things that was required was to bring into effect an updated Financial Transaction Reporting Act. Drafts were found in the Ministry’s files, but had not been progressed. They weren’t aligned with the FATF’s recommendations.”

Attorney-General Bethel said the FATF “break their recommendations down” into almost microscopic suggestions that are called methodologies.

“And so you have the recommendation. To comply with the recommendation, you have to show that you have the methodology in place and are implementing it. How do you get the methodology in place? You have to craft laws almost with microscopic attention to these methodologies. That is the process we have been at and so today we now have an FTRA. We will have a fully compliant and acceptable FTRA that will meet all of the deficiencies,” Attorney-General Bethel added.

The Financial Transaction Reporting Act was one of several areas covered by Attorney-General Bethel during Wednesday’s session. The Attorney-General also addressed matters ranging from compliance to lawyer/client privilege.

Attorney-General Bethel said the session with the stakeholder group, was a necessary part of the stakeholder consultative process on the Financial Transaction Reporting Act, as lawyers/attorneys and accountants are now being looked upon as financial institutions globally. They were previously designated as Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs).

“Lawyers, accountants and certain other professionals, were never treated as financial institutions before, they merely had duties of customer due diligence, making Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) possibly, but they were never given the duties of being a financial institution. That has all changed. They are now in the category of financial institutions,” Attorney-General Bethel said.

“Now attorneys, apart from having the usual due diligence, they must verify it. That’s the kind of ‘enhanced’ due diligence that is now required because the standard now is obtaining and verifying. The second aspect of that is of course, that as financial institutions, you are now expected to comply and to be regulated.”

The Attorney-General also addressed the matter of lawyer/client privilege.

“We all know that privilege does not extend to the issue of, or in any way facilitate, the commission of a crime by a client. So there are limits to privilege. It was suggested to myself and my staff in a meeting with the Bar Council by some persons, that we look at the situation in Canada whereas it is well known that the Supreme Court ruled that lawyer/client privilege was akin to an absolute right and that any intromission into this sacred territory violated certain articles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“And so Canada is habitually, in their mutual evaluations, given negative ratings on this whole issue of the legal profession and privilege because it is inescapable that they are unable to comply with the recommendations that they, as a member of the FATF, are party to imposing on the rest of the world.

“But the reality is that Canada is a country with enormous natural resources, 40-50 million people, and a standing army, navy and air force. They do not need the world as much as we do. We have an entirely open economy. We are an integrated part of the world, and we are very small. We do not have the luxury that a Canada can enjoy.”

Attorney-General Bethel said it is expected that lawyer/client privilege will be kept within due bounds.

“Any time counsel is aware of anything untoward, it is mandated by law that STRs be generated.”

The Attorney-General expressed his “full confidence in this august and learned legal profession” of The Bahamas.

“You have helped to pilot this Ship of State through many such storms. This is only the latest. This is The Bahamas. We know how to pilot the ship. Let us remember that it is not survival of the fittest, it is survival of the smartest and I always say about this Blessed country, that we may not have natural resources – iron or steel, etcetera; we may not have rare earth minerals, we may not have large quantities of agricultural lands to speak of (and) so we have had to learn, and we have learned over this past four hundred-odd years, to not only survive, but to succeed because we use what God gave us between our ears – our brains. We have what it takes not only to survive, but to succeed.

“My colleagues of the Bar, I have every confidence that you will continue in that noble tradition of not just surviving, but succeeding,” Attorney-General Bethel added.

 

Photo Captions:

Header: Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Carl W. Bethel, QC, chatting with officials from the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs during a break in Wednesday’s Session. Attorney-General Bethel was accompanied by (first right) Mr. Marco Rolle, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.

Insert: Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Carl W. Bethel, QC, provided regulators and members of The Bahamas Bar Association with an overview of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, 2018 (FTRA) Wednesday, May 16 as part of the Office of the Attorney-General/Bahamas Bar Association’s 2018 Legislative Series held at the British Colonial Hilton. Also pictured (from left) are: Khrystle Rutherford- Ferguson, Treasurer, Bahamas Bar Association; Kahlil Parker, President, Bahamas Bar Association; Attorney-General Bethel; Juanita Lewis-Johnson, Vice-President, Bahamas Bar Association and Marco Rolle, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.

(BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

 

 

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Statement From Hon. Fred Mitchell, MP Minister of Foreign Affairs On the Passing of Colin Powell

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#TheBahamas, October 18, 2021 – I learned this morning  of the death of Colin Powell, the American general and diplomat. I worked with him as Foreign Minister in my first term, particularly on issues related to Haiti.

Yesterday in the CARICOM meeting, I recalled while discussing Haiti his role in the crisis of that time. I recall his life, times and work as generally thoughtful and considered. He was also an example of Caribbean success in America, one to emulate. He was the son of Jamaican parents. He was an example of success as a Black man in America. I am saddened by his passing.

On behalf of the Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis, the government and people of The Bahamas, and in my own behalf, I extend condolences to the United States of America and his family.

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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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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