Bahamas Gender and Family Affairs Launches Online Family Safety Survey
#NASSAU, The Bahamas – May 13, 2020 — The Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, has launched an online survey entitled: ‘Family Safety Survey – COVID-19 Bahamas,’ in line with the department’s objectives of “keeping our families safe.”
The availability of the survey is also a part of the technological reform underway at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development.
Dr. Jacinta Higgs, the Director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, said the survey (available online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PZDXGP9) examines how interactions in Bahamian homes may have changed since the arrival of the COVID-19 Pandemic in The Bahamas.
To reduce the instances of COVID-19 community spread in countries worldwide, global governments have implemented social/physical distancing policies, curfews and mandatory lockdowns as key mechanisms in that fight. This has resulted in persons having to spend more and more time together in confined spaces at home.
Dr. Higgs said the survey – which will take just five minutes to complete – will allow officials to garner as much information as possible on what is actually happening in homes during the curfew and/or mandatory lockdown periods in order to be better able to respond, and to be better able to bring about improvement: “once we know, and if persons reach out to us.”
The survey, which has been designed to elicit responses from males and females 18 years of age and above, has multiple objectives.
“The objectives of the survey are to ascertain, via an online platform which is accessible across the length and breadth of The Bahamas, responses from persons – men and women – ages 18 and above, the level of safety and/or violence in their homes pre-COVID-19 curfew, or lockdown or Emergency Order. And during this experience to find out, in the first instance, what is the prevalence or lack thereof of violence within our homes and, secondly, would the experiences have been exacerbated as a result of persons living now confined, and living very closely to one another over longer periods of time,” Dr. Higgs said.
“Also to find out what are the concerns of Bahamians from every island and every cay; and then finally to provide persons who may be experiencing violence in their homes with yet another safe space contact (firstname.lastname@example.org). A private cell number has also been provided for those persons to have contact with the Department.”
Dr. Higgs said anyone who has access to a cell phone anywhere in The Bahamas can participate in the survey.
“This is the first time in the history of the Department that we have conducted such a survey. This is the first time in the history of the Department that we have such reach to those persons.”
The Department has undertaken the steps necessary to ensure the security and confidentially of all answers to the survey. Officials say the answers provided will remain completely “anonymous and confidential.”
The ‘surveymonkey’ web platform is international, universal and used by universities and research organizations and/or centres, in addition to departments within government, to allow those organizations to reach the greatest number of persons electronically.
“It is a platform that is safe,” Dr. Higgs assured. “We are working with one of the major universities, and the information will go directly to the research person assigned to the survey. Once the survey is submitted the responses are immediately gathered by the individual.”
Dr. Higgs said the online survey provides added benefits.
“The online survey is fully electronic which allows for the
automatic calculation of the various responses. It further affords us the
capability for the survey responses to be disaggregated (divided into detailed
sub-categories) outlining for example, how many men have responded, how many
women have responded.
“The advantage of using surveymonkey is not only to allow us access to every Bahamian in every Family Island and Cay, but it also allows us to gather that information, collate the information, then analyze the information and provide a report in a very quick turnaround time, as opposed to the sometimes years of turnaround time a survey of this magnitude may yield in terms of analyzing [the data] and then producing a report,” Dr. Higgs added.
BIS NEWS by Matt Maura
Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas
#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.
According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues. Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.
Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”
The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.
PM Davis ‘confident’ that Revenue Outturn will near $2.9 billion
By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services
#NASSAU, The Bahamas, May 30, 2023 – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said in the House of Assembly, on May 31, 2023, that public revenue receipts were strong over the nine-month period of July 2022 to March 2023, due to legislative reform, effective policy decisions, strengthened economic conditions and more efficient collection efforts.
“Analysis of the trends of the first three quarters of this fiscal year, and the years prior, suggest that the government is potentially set to exceed the $2.85 billion target set forth in the February 2023 Mid-year Supplementary Budget,” he said, during his Communication on Budget 2023.
“I am confident the revenue outturn at the end of the Fiscal Year 22/23 will near $2.9 billion.
Public spending has remained on track, and is well within the budgeted amount,” Prime Minister Davis added. “For this reason I am confident that expenditure at end of the Fiscal Year 2022/23 will almost reach the target of $3.1 billion set in the Supplementary Budget.”
He pointed out that the primary balance will, therefore, record a surplus of $68.4 million at the end of the fiscal year, a $54.8 million increase from the $13.6 million surplus projected in the supplementary budget.
“Likewise, the overall deficit is expected to improve to $520.6 million, down from the $575.4 million outlined in the supplementary budget,” he said.
Speaking of Government financing, Prime Minister Davis said that The Bahamas’ borrowing costs had begun to experience a downward trend in the previous quarter; but the cost of borrowing rose at the end of March 2023.
“At the end of the third quarter, the total average cost of borrowing for current outstanding debt had risen to an interest rate of 5.55 percent,” he pointed out. “This is notably higher than the previous year’s rate of 4.93 percent at the end of March 2022.
“This increase in borrowing costs is primarily attributable to the higher costs associated with external loan facilities.”
He added that, more specifically, the average interest rate for external financing had risen by 1.99 basis points, resulting in a rate of 5.55 percent as of March 2023, compared to the preceding year’s 3.56 percent.
“Throughout the past year, the interest rate policies of the major Central Banks have been restrictive, with a series of interest rate increases,” Prime Minister Davis said. “These adjustments have been primarily motivated by the escalation of inflation, and the resulting upsurge in interest rates has had an impact on the Bahamas’ external borrowing costs.”
He added: “However, the cost of borrowing in the domestic market has been declining over the past quarters.
Looking at it in more detail, we can see that:
- The average interest cost for domestic loans subsided by 27 basis points to 4.62 percent at end of March 2023, from 4.89 percent in the previous year;
- And the average interest cost for domestic bonds subsided by 3 basis points to 4.63 percent at the end of March 2023 from 4.66 percent in the previous year.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that those statistics affirmed the Government’s latest medium-term debt strategy, which aimed to shift its borrowing away from costly external commercial debt.
“Such debt has seen a sharp increase over the past five years, including recent interest rate hikes,” he said. “This strategic move will enable the government to once again rely predominantly on the domestic market to meet its financing requirements.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, when considering the maturity of debt, or the average time it takes to repay the principal amount in the government’s debt portfolio, a longer maturity period led to a reduction in refinancing risk.
“In essence, prioritizing longer maturities is key to managing debt effectively,” he said. “And so another element of the government’s medium-term debt management strategy is the goal of prolonging the average maturity time of its debt.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, in the face of “unprecedented turbulence” in the global financial markets, the Government was able to maintain its average time to maturity.
“At end of March 2023, the average time to maturity has decreased slightly to 6.7 years, down from the previous 6.8 years in March 2022,” he said. “This variance is due solely to the external loan component, as the average time to maturity on internal debt has remained steady at 7.1 years.”
“This highlights the significance of maintaining a prudent approach to debt management, and aligning this administration’s practices with the government’s optimal debt strategy,” Prime Minister Davis added.
“It is imperative that we continue to exercise prudence in this area to ensure financial stability.”
(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
PM states HCA model not working during budget debate
By ROBYN ADDERLEY
Bahamas Information Services
#FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, May 30, 2023 – The model of the Hawkbill Creek Act, the agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and the Grand Bahama Port Authority, is not working, said Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis during the opening of the 2023 Budget Debate on Wednesday, May 31 in the House of Assembly.
The island of Grand Bahama, he said, contributes 12 percent of the country’s GDP, however, there was a decline by 9 percent when compared to the previous year. Tourism, he said, increased in 2022 showing a growth in accommodation and food service.
“Unfortunately, the statistics show a prolonged decline in the Grand Bahamian economy. The evidence confirms the view of my government that the Hawksbill Creek economic model, which was meant to attract foreign direct investment, does not work.
“Furthermore, in our view, the government model of the Grand Bahama Port Authority must change, in order to realize the promise, growth and prosperity we all desire.
“Additionally, the Government of The Bahamas has serious concerns regarding the compliance of the GBPA and its related companies with the terms and conditions of the Hawksbill Creek Act, and its subsequent amendments.”
In the past, said the Prime Minister, administrations have attempted to address the issues however they appear to be “systemic and fundamental.” Decisive action will be taken, he continued, and a separate detailed announcement will be made at another time.
Prime Minister Davis mentioned that even though the GDP for several islands has experienced growth, Abaco and Grand Bahama have not done as well. Abaco, he said, saw a decline of 6 percent in 2022 with its contribution to the economy at 2.8 percent ranking the island as the third largest contributor.
“While there was a slight improvement in Abaco’s economy compared to 2019, it has yet to reach the levels seen before Hurricane Dorian. The decline in the economic activity is directly related to the slowdown in the real estate and construction sectors.”
He continued, “Declines in the real estate sector are directly as a result of a shift to higher intermediate consumption in 2022 from that of the previous two years. In terms of declines in construction, it should be noted that in 2020 and 2021, Abaco experienced significant recovery efforts in the form of debris removal, site preparation and building of damaged structures.
Such efforts bolstered the value added to the island’s GDP during those years. As those efforts wrap up, the industry saw a gradual decline as construction tempered to normal levels in 2022, resulting in a lower GDP.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said the Grand Bahama International Airport will be repaired, and a new healthcare facility will be built. Provisions have also been made for the continuation of an employment program for $4.7 million, along with the construction of a 50-meter swimming pool facility.
The House of Assembly has adjourned until Wednesday, June 7, when the debate will continue.
(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)
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