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Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority leading ambitious multi-million dollar housing, home repair

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#TheBahamas – March 12, 2020 — The Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority is leading ambitious housing and home repair programs in Abaco and Grand Bahama designed to assist residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.

The Authority is providing temporary residential domes in Spring City, Abaco; additional domes to disaster zone residents who want one on their property; the development of 55 lots in Central Pines for single- and multi-family use, along with two further 60-acre tracts; the Small Home Repair Programme for various levels of home restoration; and, its partnerships with NGOs through which the NGOs provide materials and technical assistance while the Authority pays for labour.

“Providing housing and assisting with home repairs are major points of focus for the Authority,” said Katherine Forbes-Smith, Managing Director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority on Sunday, March 8 at a two-hour press event hosted by the Authority at Harry C. Moore Library, University of The Bahamas, marking the six-month period since Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Domes

Thirty-two domes in Spring City are complete and have been turned over to the Authority.

The Authority is awaiting final utility connections that should be done this week.

After conferring with the Department of Social Services the domes will be turned over to residents of Spring City.

The criteria to occupy the domes are: a person’s home should have been destroyed by the storm; and, priority will be given to the elderly, physically and mentally challenged, single mothers and families with infants and small children.

“We are also in the process of constructing domes on the private properties of those who meet the criteria, four of which are being installed in Little Abaco,” said Mrs. Forbes-Smith.

“We encourage others with destroyed homes to apply to the Authority for temporary housing assistance.”

Lots/Residential Tracts

The Authority is also working on immediately developing 55 lots in Central Pines for single- and multi-family use.

“We are in the process of having properties from the Ministry of the Environment and Housing transferred to the Authority,” said Mrs. Forbes-Smith.

“It is hoped these units provide much-needed rentals and housing for people already on the island, and those seeking to return.”

Additionally, the Authority is working on the development of two, 60-acre tracts – one in Marsh Harbour and the other in Wilson City. The Surveyor General has confirmed the preliminary survey is complete.

The final plans and topography are being properly documented so the information can be included in an RFP scheduled for issue by the middle of April.

“It is hoped work would begin on this initiative in the third quarter of this year,” said Mrs. Forbes-Smith.

“It is envisioned that the developments will showcase innovative housing solutions that are sustainable, eco-friendly, energy efficient and meet with our goal of building back better.

“Local and international developers will be invited to provide solutions for the 60-acre tracts.”

Home Repairs

The Authority launched its Small Home Repair Programme on February 10.

Residents whose homes were assessed with minimal damage are eligible for $2,500 in purchase orders; those with medium damage are eligible for $5,000 in purchase orders; those with major damage are eligible for $7,500 in purchase orders; and those whose homes were destroyed are eligible for $10,000 in purchase orders.

Purchase order recipients are able to use them for home improvement materials, labour or a combination of both.

There is an online registration for the programme. In-person, sign-up locations have also been established in Grand Bahama, Abaco and New Providence.

To qualify a person needs to be Bahamian; to own the property in question; there must be proof of residence at August 31, 2019; the property would need to have been uninsured; and the property has to be in Grand Bahama or Abaco.

Materials purchased with purchase orders would have to be from approved vendors in The Bahamas.

From Bahamas Ministry of Health

Since the launch of the Small Home Repair Programme web portal, 3,137 people set up user profiles.

Of those 3,137 profiles, 2,069 homeowners have completed the full registration for assistance.

Of the 2,069 homeowners registered: 804 need structural assessments; 471 need to upload documents; 404 approved have met all the criteria and structural assessments.

The Authority is still waiting on 89 percent of homeowners to bring in their quotes so purchase orders could be issued.

Marsh Harbour, Abaco

The Authority has also partnered with various NGOs in Dorian-impacted communities to assist with home repairs.

Through the partnerships the Government pays for home repair labour and the NGOs provide supplies and various types of logistical and technical assistance.

A working model of this partnership is with Church by the Sea in Little Abaco.  Church by the Sea is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

It is assisting with home repairs across the Little Abaco communities.

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Prime Minister Davis: Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 ‘a long time coming’

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said on July 15, 2024, that he spoke in support of the compendium of Bills to legalise the use of cannabis for medical and religious purposes, to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of cannabis, and to “regulate the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis and related products within our borders and to promote the health and safety of our people.”

“This has been a long time coming,” Prime Minister Davis said, during his Contribution to the Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 Debate in the House of Assembly.

“For years, Bahamians have called for an administration to have the courage to step up and take this issue on in a decisive and responsible manner,” he added.  “While many other countries, including nations within our region like Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados, have taken steps toward decriminalisation and legalisation for medical use, Bahamians were left wondering when it would be our turn to modernise our local approach to cannabis.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that the national dialogue had been ongoing for the better part of a decade.

“Many people thought change was imminent when the Marijuana Commission began its work in October 2018, under the previous administration,” he said.  “These efforts culminated in a preliminary report delivered in January 2020 and a final report delivered in August 2021.”

He added:  “The Commission cited a wide range of in-person discussions and public opinion research, noting that there appeared to be widespread public support for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes.  There was also healthy support for decriminalisation and an appetite for a strong regulatory and enforcement framework to ensure high standards for this new industry.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the recommendations of the Commission called for legalisation for medical use, decriminalisation for small amounts, legalisation for use as a religious sacrament for members of the Rastafarian community, as well as strict regulations to ensure the quality and safety of the local cannabis product.

“In the PLP’s Blueprint for Change, we committed to developing a comprehensive regulatory framework for growing, harvesting, and exporting cannabis to create opportunities for Bahamians,” he said.

“The approach we developed to legislating and regulating Cannabis was informed by widespread research and consultation,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “It was partially based on the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana’s research and findings, as well as the approaches of other jurisdictions like Jamaica, Barbados, and Canada, where Cannabis has been legalised and regulated.”

He said that his Government’s goal was to ensure that it developed the most fair, balanced, and effective legislative and regulatory mechanisms, which would allow The Bahamas to reap economic and health benefits while promoting law and order and keeping its people safe through the introduction of stringent standards.

Prime Minister Davis added:  “Once we felt that we had an adequate draft, we released the draft bills publicly, and we held a number of stakeholder consultation sessions, led by the Attorney General’s Office, in which we sat down with major stakeholder groups like healthcare providers, leaders of our church community, advocates for legalisation, leaders of the Rastafarian community – some of whom I see here today, as well as those who had concerns about the impact of legalisation and decriminalisation on the proliferation of usage. These varied opinions were taken into account and adjustments were made to achieve the most practical and effective approach that would work best for the Bahamian people.”

He pointed out that his Government also paid close attention to ongoing research on the issue – the most recent of which, he noted, was a survey conducted nationally by Public Domain in 2023, which indicated that 61% of the population supported the legalisation of cannabis for medical usage.

“It was clear that the times had changed, and it was time for our laws to change as well,” Prime Minister Davis stated.

He continued:  “We’ve been hard at work since 2021. We knew this was not a process we could rush. There was a recognised need for carefulness and due diligence, but there was also a need to ensure that this new legislative and regulatory regime could be introduced and implemented within this term.  We could not simply kick the can down the road for our next term the way other administrations did.  No, we could not delay these changes – not when so many people had waited for years for real action to be taken.

“Today, the wait is over.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government was taking action on behalf of all of the people who simply wanted the ability to legally consume medical cannabis to help them with their medical conditions.

“There are people with children suffering from epilepsy who have been praying for this moment,” he said.  “There are people with glaucoma who want the opportunity to potentially alleviate their condition with a cost-effective and natural treatment.”

Prime Minister Davis added that there were people living with auto-immune conditions, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and other ailments who were “waiting not-so-patiently for this day.”

“We are taking action for the many men and women living with criminal records for carrying small amounts of cannabis, and the many others who will be spared criminal records as a result of decriminalization,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis stated that, as a society, his Government realised that the old approach taken against Cannabis in the War on Drugs in the 1980s and 90s did not necessarily reflect the current reality.

“Too many livelihoods have been lost because of a joint,” he said.  “Too many lives have been handicapped and potentials lost.”

He added that when he was saying that, it was not his intent to excuse those who choose to break the law.

“After all, the law is the law; it must be respected and upheld,” Prime Minister Davis stated.  “But we also recognise that the law is not static, it is dynamic. And the interpretation of the law and how it serves the greater good of society can change over time.  I am confident that many lives will be changed for the better as a result of the criminal records that will be expunged.”

“Through these reforms, we are upholding the rule of law, making it clear that if you are seeking to supply others with cannabis illegally or engage in other unlicenced and illegal activities, you will be held accountable,” he added.  “Everyone is welcome to participate within the legal and regulatory framework and only within that framework.

“Of course, as a part of this reform process, we are also taking action to recognise the rights and freedoms of Rastafarians to use Cannabis as a sacrament because it should not be against the law for our brothers and sisters of the Rastafarian faith to practice their religion.”

PHOTO CAPTION

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, on July 15, 2024, during his Contribution to the Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 Debate in the House of Assembly.    (BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

 

Release: BIS

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Bahamas Celebrates 51st Independence – ‘United In Love & Service’

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By LINDSAY THOMPSON
Bahamas Information Services



NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Commonwealth of The Bahamas celebrated 51 years as an independent nation on July 10, 2024.

A Calendar of Events planned and managed by the National Independence Secretariat focused on the theme: ‘One People United In Love & Service,’ an excerpt from the National Pledge.

An Ecumenical Service and Cultural Show was held July 9, 2024 at historic Clifford Park, where the Flag Raising segment stirred emotions from spectators – many of whom were at that same spot when the birth of the nation happened in 1973.

The 51st Independence Anniversary celebrations kicked off with a number of leadup events: beginning with ‘National Flag Day’ on June 28, during which Bahamians throughout the country donned the national colours of aquamarine, gold and black and held brief ceremonies marked by singing of the National Anthem, reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, and solemn Flag Raising.

The traditional Independence ‘Beat Retreat’ was held in Rawson Square, downtown Nassau, June 30, where a joint uniformed branch band wowed dignitaries and scores of spectators with their skillful drills and upbeat music.  This year, young people were added to the mix and drew thunderous applause as they sang the songs of local artists.

On July 1, a National Time Capsule Packing Day was coordinated, which involved all Family Islands, and New Providence.  Residents gathered historic items unique to their specific communities and placed them in time capsules.  All capsules will be unsealed in 2049 during the country’s Diamond Jubilee independence celebrations.

The week leading up to Independence was filled with activities aimed at bringing people together right where they live — their communities.  It called for Bahamians to focus on heritage, culture, love and commonalities as opposed to differences.

The main event on Tuesday, July 9, at Clifford Park drew many who donned fashionable clothing in the national colours, waved pompoms, blew whistles, and held flashing lights as they experienced from 7:30 pm to 12:00 midnight aspects of the spiritual and cultural Bahamas.

The Ecumenical Service sermon was delivered by Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander – who called into focus the theme of unity, love and service.  The gospel singing by Bishop Denczil Rolle & Friends added to the worship mood throughout the park and the vicinity of Fort Charlotte.

Following on, the cultural segment showcased folklore dance, performances by artists who evoked crowd excitement, Junkanoo, skits in which young actors dreamed of their future, and interviews with Bahamians who have beaten the odds.

Minutes before midnight, Her Excellency Dame Cynthia Pratt, Governor General, inspected the Honour Guard; members of the clergy gathered around the National Flag as it was being hoisted and offered prayers for various segments of the community; and as the Flag reached the top – the National Anthem was played followed by a burst of fireworks bringing in July 10, 2024 – the 51st Independence Anniversary of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

In those early hours, starting at 1:00 a.m. the celebration continued with ‘The People’s Rush’ Junkanoo extravaganza.

On the afternoon of Independence Day, a ‘Family Fun Day’ was held at Clifford Park, where all manner of activities, games, foods, drinks and entertainment were available for families to enjoy.

That evening, a State Reception at Government House, Mt. Fitzwilliam, was hosted by Governor General Dame Cynthia Pratt in celebration of Bahamas Independence.

PHOTO CAPTION
Photos show the 51st. Anniversary of Bahamas Independence Ecumenical Service and Cultural Show celebrations at Clifford Park, July 9-10, 2024.  (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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Bahamas Development Bank Hosts Financial Talk with Freeport Primary School  

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Freeport, Grand Bahama, 15 July 2024- The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) recently hosted a group of enthusiastic sixth graders for a session on financial literacy. Over 40 Freeport Primary School students delved into the importance of being goal oriented and the value of savings.

Through engaging activities and discussions, the sixth graders learned about the importance of planning for the future and how disciplined saving can help them achieve their dreams. Beyond this, BDB team members encouraged the students to be their best as they get ready to leave primary school.

Bahamas Development Bank Credit Operations Manager, Brent Deveaux, expressed enthusiasm about the event, stating, “It is crucial for our young people to understand the value of money management early on. By teaching them the principles of saving and goal setting, we are not only empowering them to make sound financial decisions in the future but also contributing to the overall economic well-being of our community. At the Bahamas Development Bank, we are proud to invest in the financial literacy of our youth as part of our commitment to national development.”

Following the interactive session, BDB presented a donation to Freeport Primary School to assist graduating sixth graders with their transition to junior high school.

This Freeport Primary School initiative was part of a broader effort by BDB to celebrate its 50th anniversary with events that engage and benefit the community. The bank believes that financial education is a key component of building a prosperous and financially responsible society. Bahamas Development Bank team members Brent Deveaux, Rachea Mortimer, Rhavanya Carey, and Octovia Green planned and carried out the activity.

 

Photo Caption: The Bahamas Development Bank recently hosted an interactive session designed to provide Freeport Primary School students with practical knowledge about setting financial goals and the benefits of saving money. Standing in center is Freeport Primary School Principal, Gia Walker.

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