#NASSAU, Bahamas — January 30, 2020 — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest explained that the Government is presenting the extraordinary and unexpected fiscal impact of Hurricane Dorian as a Supplementary Budget, so that the Bahamian people are made fully aware of exactly how the Government intends to address the challenges which have emerged.
As he presented the Supplementary Budget Statement in the House of Assembly, Wednesday, January 29, 2020, DPM Turnquest stated that the supplementary appropriations outline both the expected revenue losses arising from the Hurricane together with the increases in the recurrent and capital expenditure allocations necessary to deal with the emerging restoration and rebuilding activities on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
“The Supplementary Budget Book provided to this Honourable House presents the expected revenue loss for this fiscal year, by the respective revenue categories, which underlay the adjusted revenue budget for FY2019/20; it details the additional capital and recurrent expenditure arising from Hurricane Dorian, as well as several other policy imperatives. As these impacts are multi-year, the medium-term forecasts have been extended by one year and revised through to FY2022/23.”
He noted that in circumstances like this facing substantial revenue loss and significant new expenditure requirements, governments are compelled either to raise additional funds through greater taxation – or through increased borrowing in the near term. “The Government has determined that additional taxes would not be optimal at this time, given the substantial impact of Dorian to our economy and the need to maintain private consumption levels. Accordingly—and very conscientiously—the government has decided to fund the revenue loss and expenditure requirements through additional borrowings.
“Thus, I am also tabling a new borrowing resolution for authorization to borrow beyond the $72.4 million (which excludes the $628.0 million for refinancing of maturing debt) approved at the time of the 2019/20 Budget Communication in May of last year.”
He said, “As I mentioned during the tabling of the 2019 Fiscal Strategy Report in November, we anticipate that total revenue for FY2019/20 will now be reduced by $232.6 million, due to revenue losses and revenue foregone from VAT, Business Licence fees, Customs, and a number of other taxes in the Hurricane-affected islands.”
DPM Turnquest stated that it is important to remind the House that given the magnitude of the impact of Dorian on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, the Government unveiled an unprecedented package of tax incentives and concessions as a key part of the establishment of the Special Economic Recovery Zone (SERZ). I know that members opposite agree—like all Bahamians—that this was and is the right thing to do.
“However the impact of those much needed tax concessions for those island mean that over $200 million in tax revenues is being deliberately and consciously foregone. This is being done so that the government is doing as much as it reasonably can to aid the speedy recovery and restoration of those impacted communities.
“Thus, at year-end, we project a revised aggregate revenue of some $2,395.6 million in FY2019/20, as opposed to the $2,628.2 estimated at the time of the annual budget exercise.”
He added that given the total incremental spending that the Government will have to undertake to initiate rebuilding and restoration efforts, we anticipate that total expenditure will increase to $3,073.1 million for FY2019/20, in comparison to the $2,765.0 initially budgeted and approved.
The DPM explained that recurrent expenses are projected to be higher by $157.6 million, bringing the revised estimates to $2,687.6 million. Of this total, approximately $82.7 million is associated with Hurricane Dorian, which include:
- $23.1 million in costs associated with clean-up activities,
- $12.9 million to facilitate food and accommodation assistance programmes,
- $11.4 million to fund the extension of the unemployment benefit to eligible persons,
- $11.1 million in allowances for affected public staff,
- $5.4 million for the acquisition of supplies and materials,
- a $1.5 million allocation to the new Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, and,
- the remaining $17.3 million allocated to primarily cover contingencies, consultancy services, security and other costs.
He said, “This spending has and will facilitate a number of social assistance measures on the Government’s part. For example, the Government has aided with rental assistance to evacuees from both Grand Bahama and Abaco, provided accommodations to hurricane victims by way of shelters, food assistance to victims outside of the shelters, and has also extended its national lunch benefit to displaced students that relocated to schools in New Providence. In addition, the Government is seeking to expand the National Insurance Board (NIB) unemployment benefit to 26 weeks from 13 weeks to eligible persons that have been impacted by the storm.”
BIS STORY By Llonella Gilbert
PM Davis’ Remarks at Wreath Laying Ceremony – Majority Rule Day 2022
Happy Majority Rule Day to all and thank you for coming
I thank the organizers of this wreath laying ceremony because this auspicious occasion is a symbolic reminder of the significant role the Progressive Liberal Party and the Father of the Nation played in bringing about one of the most consequential and transformational events in our history, eclipsed only by the abolition of slavery in 1834.
With the addition of National Independence on 10th July 1973, these three epic events changed the course of Bahamian history forever and etched in the annals of history the Bahamian national identity and the depth of our indomitable spirit.
We must never grow weary of telling our story lest we lose our identity and heritage as a people.
Further — and more nationally — as a free, modern, democratic and independent state, history must record that Majority Rule Day is also an occasion where all Bahamians come together to reflect on and celebrate the enduring principles of democracy. Today then, I stand with my Bahamian brothers and sisters from all walks of life in memorializing this day as a seminal moment in the ever-evolving Bahamian story.
MAJORITY RULE IS A MAJOR TRIUMPH FOR DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM, HUMANITARIAN PRINCIPLES THAT WE HOLD NEAR AND DEAR TO OUR HEARTS. THESE PRINCIPLES ARE ALSO THE CHIEF PHILOSOPHICAL CORNER STONES AND PILLARS ON WHICH THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT AND WILL SUSTAIN US FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.
We must never allow our detractors to minimize, trivialize or relegate this great day and event to the scrap heap of historical irrelevance. To do so is to dishonour the vision, memory and legacy of those great courageous souls on whose shoulders we stand.
We cannot and must not conveniently disinherit our glorious legacy because our truth is inconvenient to some.
A cause rooted in social justice, freedom fighters courageously stood in the vanguard of change – unyielding in their demand that all were created equal — with God-given rights to human dignity without regard to race, gender, colour or creed. This stand of conscience galvanized a nation, a generation of Bahamians, and in the process significantly reshaped the character and national identity of The Bahamas forever.
I pay tribute to the many unsung heroes and heroines whose endearing and enduring legacies of selflessness and shared sacrifices remain the gold standard of our national culture in both public life and in the way we conduct our personal affairs with one another.
I continue to draw, conviction, inspiration and influence from the passion of the Suffragettes, the labour movement, the church and from countless Bahamians who put it all on the line to secure a more perfect Commonwealth.
Speaking of passion, conviction, inspiration and influence, I wish to take a moment to recount the role the late Sir Sidney Poitier played and the contributions he made during our journey to Majority Rule.
Many Bahamians still recall his speaking to the issue at a reception in his honour to the then United Bahamian Party (UBP) government in recognition of his Academy Award for ‘Lilies of the Field.’
A well-known story in PLP circles is his assistance to the Progressive Liberal Party in the run up to the 1967 general elections. There is an iconic photo of Sir Sidney and Sir Lynden at the back of an open limousine celebrating the 1967 victory.
May he rest in peace.
As a beneficiary of their sacrificial work, I thank them all — Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Milo Butler, Sir Randal Fawkes, Sir Clifford Darling, Dame Doris Johnson and Sir Sidney Poitier — for their passion, faith, perseverance and uncompromising commitment to social justice, democracy, freedom and a sense of fair play.
It is indeed an honour and a privilege to stand on their broad proverbial shoulders to continue their invaluable work in building a stronger and more perfect Commonwealth to positively impact the lives of generations yet unborn.
Our cause is indeed national, inclusive and intergenerational in its nature, range and scope.
On behalf of my wife Ann Marie, my cabinet and parliamentary colleagues, my government, the officers and members of the Progressive Liberal Party, I extend best wishes and highest regards to the people of The Bahamas as we celebrate Fifty-Five years of Majority Rule.
May Almighty God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
BASH Launches Youth ‘Build-A-Skill’ Project
By Kathryn Campbell
#TheBahamas, January 15, 2022 – Bahamas Association for Social Health (BASH) commemorates its 31st anniversary with the launch of a skills training initiative for youth.
BASH Youth ‘Build-A-Skill’ Training Programme will provide specialized training to high risk youth in soft, social and hard skills in conjunction with the Ministry of Education (MOE) the University of The Bahamas, BTVI and other stakeholders.
Terry Miller, founder of BASH, which is an adult male residential substance dependency treatment and rehabilitation facility, said his organization will work with Urban Renewal to identify young men and women in the community who could benefit from the courses.
During a ceremony January 12, 2022 at BASH facilities in Chippingham, the Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training, congratulated Mr. Miller and his executive team as they celebrated the 31st anniversary, and as The Bahamas celebrates the 55th anniversary of Majority Rule (January 10th 1967).
“Any effort that brings awareness and allows people to find within themselves who they are, what they are, and move beyond whatever challenge they face is very much in line with the struggle of our people which led to 1967,” said Minister Hanna Martin.
“I stand here to support the work of this organization, Terry Miller and his leadership. I am very proud of our legacy, heritage and history.
“You have been so faithful to the cause, you have understood the journey and you have been faithful against all odds, facing every challenge, setback, disappointment. Many would have gone in a different direction but you stayed the course.”
Dr. Jacinta Higgs, veteran educator and former director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, in a recorded speech, commended Mr. Miller for his noble venture.
She said the certification programmes in soft skills, social skills and hard skills are needed in The Bahamas.
“Coming out of and during COVID-19, we’ll need an amplification in the offerings for our young people because there are going to be so many gaps that would have occurred as a result of the lockdowns and shift to virtual learning and teaching as a result of COVID-19.
“Soft skills are critical. Social skills will definitely be needed. The genesis of education was to socialize young people and children toward becoming productive, contributing citizens. Therefore problem solving, conflict resolution, patience, motivation, anger management, grief therapy — these are critical — especially grief because during COVID-19 thousands of families would have lost hundreds of family members. Because it happened unexpectedly, suddenly, persons were not prepared, it happened at a time when there were lockdowns: what happens [then] is the grief experience is going to be more problematic, exacerbated because we didn’t have the old traditional ways of gathering so grief could be shared.”
Dr. Higgs said the hard skills, including construction, organic farming, hydroponics, aquaponics, multi-media social media, solar panel technology, are very much aligned with some of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The goals include: encouraging young people to grow their own food, partnership with the Ministry of Health to encourage good health and well-being, and partnership with the Ministry of Education to display emphasis on survival life skills.
Mr. Miller said the youth programme is an indication of the organization’s commitment not only to the social health of the country but to the most valuable asset any nation can have – its youth.
“On this our 31st anniversary, we are a social asset that has paid the price, stood the test of time and is now ready, willing, able and eager to go the extra mile,” said Mr. Miller.
(BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)
Press Release: BIS
New Chairman Looks to Grow BAMSI
#TheBahamas, January 15, 2022 – Critics of the Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) might argue that the Institute had been left to languish in mediocrity after a stellar launch in 2014. Initially, the Institute soared, with laser-like focus, on an upward trajectory of success including; experts, both international and Bahamian from the field of agriculture and marine science, were brought in to equip students, staff and farmers with technical knowledge, the academic arm held the first of successive graduations in 2016, and international partnerships were formed that would benefit students and staff alike and bring a level of esteem to the Institute.
Woven amongst these triumphs however, cracks, setbacks, and seemingly insurmountable hurdles arose. Combine these inefficiencies with the impact in recent years of major hurricanes, a downturn in the economy and the loss of key personnel, BAMSI struggled with its identity and lost sight of its original mandate.
Under the leadership of newly appointed Chairman Tyrel Young, who assumed office November 1, 2021, the way forward for BAMSI is steadily and strategically being carved out and a return to the original objectives and mission statement seem assured.
“I want people to know that from day one, my priority was to understand the Government’s plan for BAMSI and to carry out that mandate to the best of my ability, and with the full support of the staff. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe, food security must remain at the top of our agenda. We must be able to provide at least the basic food items for ourselves on a consistent basis and we must be able to do that in a sustainable manner, so that future generations of Bahamians will be supported and have access to arable land, and delicacies like conch and lobster. “
Finding the farm in a disappointing level of disarray – this is one of the first areas Mr. Young turned his attention to. With almost 90 percent of the tractors down, Mr. Young moved to have the machines quickly repaired so that production on the farm could ramp up to an acceptable level and also so the Institute could better support its Associate Farmers.
The wellbeing of the farm itself was quickly reasserted as a critical objective, as was identifying the essential crops and increasing production, research and training of farm staff.
“As we head into 2022, my goal is to see a steady increase in the types of crops grown by BAMSI, our partners in the Associated Farmers program and all farmers across the Bahamas. Part of BAMSI’s job, as research Institute, is to provide critical information for the sector in terms of best practices, best variety for our environment, and healthiest options for our populace,” he said.
“We want to balance supporting the business of farming – that is seeing farmers maximize their earning potential – with making the healthiest produce available to the widest spectrum of our citizenry…and available at a cost they can afford,” Mr. Young said. “Persons living in the inner cities, the less fortunate, those living on the margins of society, they should all have access to healthy produce in their neighbourhoods and be able to actual include these items – fresh fruit and vegetables – in their grocery budget.”
The academic arm also required greater support. Unlike many government departments, agencies and ministries, there was an immediate need to increase the staff compliment with educated, motivated and focused individuals who would assist in the training of young and not so young future agriculturalist and marine scientists.
A key component of the new mandate is driving enrollment levels up by widening the recruitment net and making it easier for recent graduates and those interested in making a career change to choose BAMSI and work through the enrolment process quickly and smoothly, all while feeling supported by staff and administration.
“Just like UB and BTVI, the Government of the Bahamas is committed to providing free education to qualified candidates at BAMSI. We want students and parents to know that if you pass five BGCSE’s, math and English included, the BAMSI Government Tertiary Education Grant is available to you. It covers a range of things from tuition and fees to textbooks. We want senior high students, especially those in grades 10 and 11, to start planning now to enroll in BAMSI. A beautiful campus along with a talented team of educators awaits you,” Mr. Young said.
Other areas of BAMSI are also scheduled for revamping. The Distribution Centre, long a favourite amongst the Bahamian public, especially those who are focused on locally grown, healthy food items, will again showcase the best produce the nation has to offer. The $20 produce box continues to be a much sought-after item.
Pulling all of these areas together, Mr. Young noted, the Institute is set to launch an aggressive marketing campaign to ensure that BAMSI becomes a household name in the best possible way…a leader in sustainable farming, a world-class academic institute in agriculture and marine science, a top regional research Centre, and a partner and stakeholder along with every Bahamian farmer. “My goal is that every Bahamian is aware of the full range of services and goods the Nassau/Andros-based Institute has to offer.”
Press Release: BAMSI
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