#Nassau, September 11, 2018 – Bahamas – The government has appointed Zhivargo Laing to lead the country’s negotiation team for accession to World Trade Organization (WTO) membership. The announcement was made September 9, 2018 during a press conference held at the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration.
Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Hon. Brent Symonette said the government is confident that Mr. Laing is well-suited to lead accession negotiations and ensure that the terms of WTO membership would be mutually beneficial to The Bahamas and WTO members.
“Mr. Laing, who is trained in economics and finance, once had responsibility for international trade policy and during his tenure as Minister of State for Finance led The Bahamas’ application to accede to the WTO in 2001,” said Minister Symonette.
Thanking the government for the appointment and extending gratitude to Ray Winder, who preceded him as Chief Negotiator for WTO, Mr. Laing said that the appointment comes at a ‘unique’ time as he currently leads the Government and Public Policy Institute at the University of The Bahamas (UB).
“The presence today of UB President, Dr. Rodney Smith and Provost Dr. Linda A. Davis, signals the university’s support of my appointment as Chief Negotiator,” said Mr. Laing. “The university will bring to bear its substantial resources to ensure that these kinds of undertakings are grounded in informed expertise. In fact, we at the university invite the government to consider other areas in which UB faculty and researchers can add value and build capacity within the country by serving as consultants where necessary.”
As the Chief Negotiator, Mr. Laing has been mandated to lead efforts to ensure that the strategic intent of the country’s attempt to join WTO is effectively fulfilled. To this end, Mr. Laing will lead a delegation to the third meeting of the Working Party on the accession of The Bahamas to the WTO on 21st September 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.
In November 2017, the government committed to accelerating efforts to finalize the country’s accession to WTO membership by December 2019. As a result, several consultations have been held with stakeholders representing a cross-section of economic areas in order to acquire private sector input.
The Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration has now submitted all necessary negotiation inputs required by the WTO Secretariat to formally recommence negotiations. The Bahamas’ delegation will be led by the Hon. Brent Symonette, accompanied by Zhivargo Laing; Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson; and other senior technical officers from the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration and the Ministry of Agriculture & Marine Resources.
If the accession negotiations and terms of WTO membership prove to be mutually beneficial, The Bahamas intends to join the WTO in late 2019 or mid-2020.
By Betty Vedrine
Header: The government has announced the appointment of Zhivargo Laing as Chief Negotiator for the country’s accession to WTO membership. Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Hon. Brent Symonette will lead a delegation including Mr. Laing to the third meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of The Bahamas to WTO, Geneva Switzerland, on September 21, 2018. Mr. Laing currently leads the Government and Public Policy Institute at the University of the Bahamas (UB). Pictured l-r: Ava Rodland, Project Manager, Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration; UB Provost, Dr. Linda Davis; Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration Cora Colebrooke; Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Hon. Brent Symonette; newly appointed Chief WTO Negotiator Zhivargo Laing; UB President, Dr. Rodney Smith; and Legal Advisor and Acting Director of Trade, Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration Keva Bain.
Insert: Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Hon. Brent Symonette speaking during a press conference announcing Mr. Zhivargo Laing as Chief Negotiator for The Bahamas’ accession to World Trade Organization (WTO) membership. The press conference was held on September 9, 2018 at the Ministry of Financial Services.
(BIS Photo/Kristaan Ingraham)
Chinese Embassy Donates Greenhouses To The Bahamas
#TheBahamas, October 22, 2021 – In an effort to assist the Government of The Bahamas with its goal to increase food production, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China donated 15 greenhouses recently. The greenhouses, which vary in size, will be distributed in Grand Bahama and throughout the Family Islands.
Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Parliamentary Secretary Leonardo Lightbourne along with Permanent Secretary Joel Lewis were on hand to receive the items.
Minister Sweeting expressed gratitude on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas.
“I would like to sincerely thank you for these greenhouses, which speak to our blueprint for change. Agriculture plays a significant role in finding ways to feed ourselves. Big things start small and real change starts with ideas. These greenhouses will definitely play an instrumental role in finding new ways of farming techniques and ideas to feed ourselves,” he said.
The Minister mentioned that Agriculture contributes only 0.8 percent of GDP, a rate he is looking to drastically change.
“I look forward to working with you in the future because it is very important to myself and my ministry that Agriculture becomes prominent in our country and where people feel that they can be business-oriented,” Minister Sweeting said.
“The raging pandemic has highlighted once again the importance of the Agricultural sector and the imperative of reducing the cost of living for the average Bahamian,” she said.
“I very much support the minister’s objective to make Agriculture more appealing to Bahamians and attracting more investment into this vital sector. Agriculture has a big potential to be commercially viable as is shown with our experience with working your Caribbean neighbours. Today’s donation of greenhouses is only a small beginning to what we hope to be a growing Agricultural partnership between our countries. I’m glad that the minister has just expressed his commitment of working with us.”
The Ambassador said the two countries have long been in discussions to further develop the Agriculture industry.
“It is now time to put our ideas into practice by working together on the ground and in the fields. I look forward to discussions with the minister to understand his priorities and to see how we can best work with him,” Ambassador Qingli said.
Students display culinary skill and creativity in Bahamas Young Chef Competition
#TheBahamas, October 19, 2021 – – Despite setbacks and limitations due to COVID-19, Lamont Missick, H.O. Nash; Gerardo Annacius, Anatol Rodgers and Brianna Butterfield of Kingsway Academy, overcame the odds and finished first, second and third respectively in the second phase of the recent 29th Annual Bahamas Young Chef New Providence District Culinary Competitions.
With hybrid lessons and just two weeks of in-person classes supervised by teachers, the three students, who are enrolled in Family and Consumer Science Education, stepped up to the plate and earned the right to enter the upcoming third phase (National Round) of the annual contest.
Now into its 29th year, the annual district competition, sponsored by the Ministry of Education along with Robin Hood Flour and Mahatma Rice, was held at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School, October 7 and 8. Under the watchful eyes of judges who are all professional chefs — Clement Williams, Jimmy Dean, Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Hazel Rolle, and Celeste Smith — the students were required to use Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour to prepare a dish and dessert based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Resilience: Going Back to Our Roots.”
Following the grueling round in the kitchen and interviews by the judges, Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer congratulated the students and parents, and offered advice to the teachers.
“We appreciate all of the time and effort that you put into your children. This competition is a true partnership between home, school and industry. The chefs are willing to give their input and give them [the students] the benefit of their experience.
“We have three young persons who are very much into what they are learning in school. They are putting their best foot forward. All of them are automatically in the national round,” said Ms. Turnquest.
“COVID-19 is forcing us to use technology in new and creative ways. You are now able to bring industry professionals into your classroom almost on a regular basis who don’t have to leave where they are to get into your classroom to give the students the benefit of their knowledge.”
She urged the students to use the judges’ critiques to refine and elevate their dishes.
“You saw the experience of working in the kitchen with persons viewing and walking through while you are working. That is something valuable. Take advantage of it and we’ll see you again for the National round. Congratulations to all of you today.”
Lamont Missick, 14,
Flour dish: Pineapple upside down muffin
Rice Dish: Land and Sea Rice
Lamont said he used the opportunity to sharpen his culinary skills.
“I realized my love for culinary arts from the age of 8. I remember watching Ratatouille, and hearing that “anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great. I aim to be great and one day become and executive chef in my own restaurant,” said the ninth grader.
Flour dish: Sugar apple almond muffins
Rice dish: Spinach Carrot Rice Cup with grouper pineapple sauce
“I love to cook and I wanted to boost my cooking skills,” said Brianna.
Gerardo Annacius dubbed his dishes ‘Fall ‘n’ Love’.
Flour dish: Toasted bennie spiced cream puff with native pumpkin and coconut crème filling topped with ginger caramel
All of the judges commended the students on their dishes and encouraged them to continue to work hard.
Lamont was praised for his organized and sanitized kitchen-station. Also noted was his flavorful ‘spot on’ rice dish from which exuded flavors of conch, lobster, salt beef and coconut milk.
Chef Williams encouraged him to improve his presentation and move away from serving rice the old fashioned way of “cupping” in a bowl.
The judges were impressed with Annacius’ theme: “Fall ‘n’ Love’ and gave him pointers on how to improve his dish and dessert.
“You experienced a slight setback in the kitchen and your dessert dish did not come out as expected — but you did not stop, you made an effort to present something. Your dessert was flavorful; it did not rise like it should but you executed based on what you had,” said Chef Smith.
By Kathryn Campbell
Nine Grand Bahama residents have had their minor criminal records expunged
#TheBahamas, October 19, 2021 – The Davis Administration is fully committed to ensuring that young Bahamians get second chances where possible, by expunging minor offence records, where necessary, according to Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey.
“One of our mandates in our ten-point plan in the ‘blueprint for change’ is compassionate social relief and the expungement of records for offences that are due, based on the violations of the Emergency Orders. So, we are going to continue to ensure that those records are expunged,” said Minister Moxey.
“For Grand Bahama Island, this ministry is responsible for the promotion of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the island. So, this is an ideal time for those who have not been able to find jobs, based on these criminal records, to be able to re-enter the job market.”
During a press conference in the Office of the Prime Minister on Thursday, October 14, 2021, Northern Bahamas representative for the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee, Mr. Dudley Seide, paid a courtesy call on the Minister for Grand Bahama, during which time he announced that nine people from the island of Grand Bahama have had their minor criminal records expunged through the efforts of the Committee.
Minister Moxey called it a great day for Grand Bahama and for Grand Bahamians. She noted that overall, many people in Grand Bahama are hurting financially, adding that those people with minor criminal offences were held back from supporting themselves and their families because of their inability to gain employment because of their criminal records.
“On behalf of the government, we are excited that this day has come and to also let the community know that we are committed to this effort,” added Minister Moxey. “We want to also appeal to those people who may have received criminal records during the Emergency Orders to come forward and apply and begin the process to have their records expunged.”
Mr. Dudley Seide of Reach Out Organization and a member of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee said that nine Grand Bahamians who had applied to the committee to have their records expunged have had their applications approved.
“The mandate of our new Minister for Grand Bahama is to help young people who have been arrested on minor offences and who were arrested or charged during the Emergency Orders,” said Mr. Seide.
“This is a golden opportunity for these people to get their lives restarted. These people can now go on and live their lives. These offences prevented these people from getting jobs, obtaining a U.S. Visa, travelling – but now they can begin to do all of these things. What was hurtful was to see so many people who were arrested during the Emergency Orders, who paid the fines, but who had no idea that these offences were still on their records.
“I want to thank the Minister for National Security for giving young people an opportunity to restart their lives.”
Minister Moxey thanked the members of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee for their tireless work in helping people “get their lives back.”
By Andrew Coakley
Photo Caption: PART OF SECOND CHANCE – Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey (second from right) was on hand when Mr. Dudley Seide, member of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee (left) presented Brian Bullard Jr. (second from left) with an official declaration of the expungement of his record, during a press conference in the Office of the Prime Minister (GB) on Thursday, October 14, 2021. Bullard was one of nine Grand Bahamians who’ve had their records expunged through the efforts of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee.
(BIS photo by Lisa Davis)
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