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BAHAMAS: D’Aguilar: Intervention in Grand Lucayan is in National Interest

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#Nassau, September 25, 2018 – Bahamas – It would be an act of “sheer cruelty and neglect” toward the people of Grand Bahama for the government “to idly stand by and let the Grand Lucayan, a prime hotel property, go the way of the Royal Oasis,” Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar told Parliament.

Addressing the House of Assembly Thursday (September 20, 2018), Minister D’Aguilar said news of the government’s proposal to purchase the Grand Lucayan has sparked vibrant public debate.  He said while many of the questions and arguments raised against the purchase of this property would have some merit under normal circumstances, “when a particular situation in a country is so critical, government must intervene in the national interest.”

“As a veteran businessman, my personal belief is that governments should leave all businesses such as hotels, to be run by the private sector. However, there comes a time when a particular situation in a country is so critical that the government must intervene in the national interest.

“The Grand Lucayan Hotel is a case in point.  This is not just about a hotel and its employees, nor is it just about an island.  This is about the prosperity of an entire nation.  It would be an act of sheer cruelty and neglect towards the people of Grand Bahama for the government to idly stand by and let the Grand Lucayan, a prime hotel property, go the way of the Royal Oasis.”

Mr. D’Aguilar’s comments came while Seconding the Motion for a $35 Million Loan from Hutchison Whampoa for the Purchase of the Grand Lucayan Resort. He said the government’s intention is not to hold on to the Grand Lucayan for any extended period of time, but to purchase it and “ready it for onward sale to the most attractive investor.”

Mr. D’Aguilar said in pursuing the purchase of the 1200-room hotel property, the government seeks to secure the foundation of Grand Bahama’s tourism sector and bring about a critical turn around in the direction of Grand Bahama’s economy.

“If the Government did not act, the closure of the hotel was a certainty.  The Grand Lucayan is too important to Freeport and ultimately The Bahamas. It is too important and too big to fail.  Failure to purchase this hotel would concretize significant losses to the Public Treasury, a loss of annual departure tax, VAT, Customs Duty, all in the millions of dollars if the Grand Lucayan is closed.”

Minister D’Aguilar said if the resort is opened and becomes operational at effective levels, it will secure the employment of approximately 1200 persons – the wages from which would amount to approximately $20-$25 million, not including indirect and induced employment.  He said construction could produce a potential 500 jobs with annual wages of approximately $15 million.

“All of this represents a significant injection into the economy of Grand Bahama,” he said.

Minister D’Aguilar said the hotel’s closure would have a devastating effect.

“Specifically, it would have a severe effect on the Port Lucaya Marketplace and Marina where over 50 businesses are in operation; it would have a severe impact on the three daily Ferry Services from Florida, namely the Balearia, the Grand Celebration and the Grand Classica.  We would eventually lose them.  And it would have a severe impact on straw vendors and taxi drivers and all other ancillary businesses and suppliers that need this hotel to be open in order for them to survive.”

Minister D’Aguilar said the closure of the Royal Oasis in 2004 has had a negative impact on Grand Bahama and its economy. He said the International Bazaar, which adjoins the hotel, is now a ghost town, full of derelict and abandoned buildings.

“Its state of near total disrepair is proving that once you make the fatal mistake of allowing a hotel to close, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get it re-opened.

“We have learned the lessons from previous governments – what damage inaction can cause. Inaction and closure is simply not an option for the Grand Lucayan, if the intention is to bring it back to life and to create the greatest economic impact.”

Minister D’Aguilar said the government will act decisively in the best interests of the people of Grand Bahama and the people of The Bahamas.

“The numbers reveal a tourism sector that has received some traumatic body blows and we were elected on overwhelming numbers to do what is necessary to reverse that trend,” Mr. D’Aguilar said.

“The purchase of the Grand Lucayan and its eventual re-development could be the catalyst to Grand Bahama’s rebirth – a chance to improve the mood and confidence levels and provide a new destination unique from other islands and really allow for the proper re-branding of Grand Bahama.

“Behind any major decision, there must be a vision. What is the vision for Grand Bahama? Like the proverbial Phoenix that rises from the ashes, we envision the gradual and sure recovery of the island of Grand Bahama,” Minister D’Aguilar added.

 

By: Matt Maura

Release: BIS

 

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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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