#NASSAU, The Bahamas – February 24, 2020 — Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, Wednesday refuted criticisms that there was a lack of preparation in the face of the monster storm, Hurricane Dorian, in 2019.
Minister Campbell told House Members that: “while there is always more that can be done just because we occupy the largest room in the world, which is the room for improvement, let us not take away from what has been done because we believe there is more that could have been done.”
Contributing to the Mid-Term Budget Debate for the Fiscal year 2019-2020 in the House of Assembly Wednesday, Minister Campbell said Hurricane Dorian was of the magnitude that had never before been experienced. It resulted in what Minister Campbell said became the greatest humanitarian aid and relief effort in Bahamian history.
Minister Campbell said officials at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, the four Departments (Department of Social Services, Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services, the Department of Gender and Family Affairs and the Urban Renewal Commission) and many Divisions and Units that fall under its remit (and in particular, the Disaster Management Unit) engaged in a wide range of activities months prior to the start of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season – including the inspection and assessment of proposed shelters and the launch of public service announcements as part of its education and awareness campaigns.
He applauded ministry employees across the country for their commitment to preparations prior to the Hurricane Season and the approach of Dorian, and their efforts on the frontline during and in the aftermath of the monster Hurricane, and despite suffering major losses in some instances themselves.
“My level of respect and gratitude for, and towards, the staff and the team of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development has increased ten-fold after observing and witnessing their level of commitment and dedication – even in the face of their own adversity; even while some of them lost their own homes and had family members who were injured and/or missing. They continued to give the service that was required.”
Minister Campbell said the Ministry was called upon to manage up to 15 shelters throughout The Bahamas, including ten in New Providence, in the aftermath of the Hurricane. He commended those institutions that: “allowed us to use their facilities here in New Providence.”
These included: All Saints Anglican Church, the Salvation Army, the Enoch Backford Memorial Gymnasium, Bahamas Academy Gym, Pilgrim Baptist Church, Kendal G.L. Isaacs national Gymnasium, Calvary Haitian Baptist Church, Grants Town Seventh-Day Adventist Church and the Fox Hill Community Centre.
“We were very fortunate to have use of these facilities and let me say that none of these facilities were purposefully built for the amount of persons and the duration that we needed use of them.”
Minister Campbell said of the shelters mentioned, just one — Bahamas Academy Gymnasium — remains operational. The Kendal G.L. Isaacs Gymnasium closed its doors as a shelter February 15.
Minister Campbell told House Members that the ministry’s preparations have already begun for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season even as it continues to provide assistance to victims of the 2019 Hurricane.
“I assure the Bahamian people that we in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development are evaluating protocols, policies and procedures. We are mindful that it cannot be business as usual. We are mindful that what we faced could become more frequent and as a result, we will continue like every good sailor does, to adjust our sails and remain steadfast and agile at the helm so that we can remain on course and meet our target.
“We ask persons to continue to come forward and volunteer because the next hurricane season is upon us. We ask persons to appreciate that even as we haven’t been able to conduct a complete post mortem of Dorian because we are still living it, we are already planning for the commencement of the next season,” Minister Campbell added.
BIS STORY BY MATT MAURA
National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas
By Shanieka Smith
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.
“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.
Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.
Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”
The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.
Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.
Consumer protection, 85 businesses to be put under watch
By Dana Malcolm
February 2, 2023 – Grocery stores and dozens of other businesses will be under the microscope soon as the government begins aggressively enforcing the Consumer Protection Ordinance passed back in 2016 with an all-new Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement (C.A.R.E) Drive.
Carried out by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Fair Competition the drive aims to “actively educate providers whilst enforcing the main provisions to protect consumers under the Consumer Protection Ordinance,” a press release explained.
Firstly, Consumer Officers charged with protecting the people of the TCI from unfair business practices will be assessing the prices of selected breadbasket items in 23 different stores countrywide each month to see whether price gouging is being carried out by businesses.
Breadbasket items are currently duty-free under the Food and Fuel Tax Break until the end of the financial year in March and all savings from those tax exemptions should be passed on directly to the consumer. After each assessment, which will continue for several months at least a monthly price report will be published on the Department of Trade’s website.
In addition, the Consumer Officers will be monitoring other business activities across the country “to ensure that providers are compliant with their duties to consumers.”
Those responsibilities include:
- Giving customers certain basic information about goods and services being sold;
- Informing consumers about terms and conditions before any payment is made (e.g., warranties, refunds, returns, exchanges, etc.) and;
- Abstaining from misleading and deceptive conduct, false representation and unfair business practices.
The government says they will reach at least 85 businesses with the C.A.R.E. Drive but they did not indicate the process behind how these businesses had been singled out. Non-compliant ones will be fined after a thorough investigation and warnings are issued by the Department of Trade.
With this in mind, business owners are being encouraged to familiarize themselves with their duties under the Ordinance lest they be caught in breach. The government did not say what entities would be assessed and whether that included major retail grocery stores, gasoline dealers, water companies, electricity providers, telecommunications companies and other essential providers of the services that all islanders spend on.
74 Foreign Nationals Convicted in The Magistrate’s Court
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – In Magistrate’s Court #1 today, seventy-two (72) foreign nationals were arraigned before Magistrate Algernon Allen Jr. for various immigration offenses.
Thirty-two (32) Cuban nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) of them were subsequently sentenced to four months in the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS). Thirty (30) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department of Immigration to be deported.
A total of forty (40) Haitian nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) received custodial sentences of three months at BDOCS, and thirty-seven (37) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department to be deported. In addition to the charge of Illegal Landing, one (1) Haitian man was also convicted of Knowingly Attempting to Misleading an Immigration Officer and subsequently sentenced to six months at BDOCS on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Three (3) Haitian nationals were also charged with Overstaying. Two (2) pleaded guilty and were convicted. Respectively they were fined $2,000.00 or, in default of payment, served six months at BDOCS, conditionally discharged, and deported. One (1) Haitian female pleaded not guilty, and the matter was adjourned to a later date. Upon payment of fines, completion of sentences, and discharge, all persons were ordered to be turned over to the Department of Immigration for deportation.
The Department remains committed to executing our mandate to ensure compliance with the Statue Laws of our country.
For more information, call the Public Relations Unit at 1-242-322-7530, visit our website at www.immigration.gov.bs, or call our Investigation hotline anonymously, at 1-242-604-0249.
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