#TurksandCaicos, March 15, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency is aware that some countries in the European Union have suspended their AstraZeneca vaccination campaign, as a result of reports of rare blood coagulation disorders in people who had received the vaccine. This was done as a precautionary measure while a full investigation is conducted into the reports. At present, it cannot be determined whether there is a link between the vaccine and the disorders.
Adverse reactions that happen following immunisation with any vaccine need to be fully investigated to rule out various factors, for example concomitant illnesses, progression of a disease, and batch assessment, before a final decision is made by the health authorities.
It must be noted that the vaccine being used in the Caribbean is not the same version or batch as the one in Europe.
The World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) systematically reviews any vaccine safety signals and concerns related to COVID-19 vaccine safety. This committee is carefully assessing the current reports on the Astra Zeneca vaccine. As soon as WHO has gained a full understanding of these events, the findings and any changes to current recommendations will be immediately communicated to regional and international public health partners which includes CARPHA.
The WHO states that “Vaccination against COVID-19 will not reduce deaths from other causes. Deaths from other causes will continue to occur, including after vaccination, but causally unrelated. As of 9 March, over 268 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered since the start of the pandemic, based on data reported to WHO by national governments. No cases of death have been found to have been caused by COVID-19 vaccines to date.
We want to reassure our Member States that CARPHA’s Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) applies its reliance procedure to verify vaccines with emergency use authorization granted by stringent regulatory authorities of reference.
CARPHA encourages persons who have been vaccinated with any of the COVID-19 vaccines available in their country, to report adverse events that occur after vaccination to the local health authorities.
Government, fulfilling commitment to provide housing for Bahamians
By: Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services
#TheBahamas, May 18, 2022 – The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, has underscored the government’s commitment to “strengthening” and “deepening” its “unmatched” legacy of providing access to decent, affordable housing to Bahamians.
“Our BMC Executive Chair, Barbara Cartwright, is committed to expediting those applications and assigning without delay, suitably qualified housing applicants.
“I believe the number of applications at BMC in just the last eight months is in excess of 3,500. This housing demand suggests that we move with urgency and dispatch.”
In this vein, the government, Monday, along with stakeholders, unveiled The Renaissance at Carmichael, a housing sub-division on 70 acres of crown land off Carmichael Road in Western New Providence.
Executives of the government and public-private partnerships (PPP) participated in a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, May 16, 2022 at the Office of the Prime Minister, which will allow Bahamian families the ability to open the doors to 200 new homes.
The subdivision is being funded by a PPP arrangement between the Government, a $20 million backing from PROVEN Wealth Ltd. through Simplified Lending, the Mortgage Corporation of the Bahamas and financiers.
Dignitaries in attendance: the Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing; the Hon. Vaughn Miller, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources; the Hon. Pia Glover-Rolle, Minister of State for the Public Service; Leroy Major, Executive Chairman, Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation; Nicole Campbell, Secretary to the Cabinet; David Davis and Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretaries; Barbara Cartwright, Chairman, Bahamas Mortgage Corporation; Oral Lafleur, Acting Chief Housing Officer; and Thomas Ferguson, Acting Director of Housing. Representatives of private sector partners: Robert Pantry, Founder and CEO, Simplified Lending; Johann Heaven, President and CEO, PROVEN Wealth Limited.
Prime Minister Davis assured that as the economy fully opens and grows, the government expects to expand PPPs in other areas of national economy including public infrastructure providing investments, ownership and job opportunities for Bahamians.
Minister Coleby-Davis said the initiative will set a new standard in affordable housing by which other housing developments will be measured.
“With this project we intend to create an estate where a sense of community thrives. There will be lit streets, sidewalks; a park where children can play safely and family gatherings can take place. Neighbors will be able to come together and interact as our families were able to do many years ago.
Formerly known as Carmichael Village Sub-division, the community will comprise 104 single family, two and three-bedroom residences, and eight two-storey condominium buildings with 12 units each.
In a video presentation Minister Coleby-Davis said, “Thanks to Simplified Lending, a Bahamian company which secured funding through a leading regional finance company called PROVEN. Many who only dreamed of home ownership will be able to walk through the front door to their new lives in less than one year.”
She informed that homes will be built to the highest quality with steel frame construction, storm-rated windows and doors, attractive facades and strong concrete foundations raised three feet above road level.
“Thanks to careful design, planning and exemptions on certain building supplies, every home will remain in the affordable price range opening doors to home ownership starting at $130,000,” she said.
Mr. Heaven said, “This transaction today will be primarily funded through the Bahamian portion of our Heritage education fund which is a regional education savings plan that is over 30 years old and is a household name for saving for your children’s tertiary education.”
The government broke ground for Pinecrest Sub-Division, a 43-lot community in Southern New Providence in January of this year.
BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna
Header: From left: Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretary; the Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing; Nicole Campbell, Secretary to the Cabinet and the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
1st insert: The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, is pictured speaking at the signing of Memorandum of Understanding for The Renaissance at Carmichael, a new sub-division in western New Providence.
2nd insert: The Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing and Johann Heaven, President and CEO, PROVEN Wealth Ltd., after ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.
PM Davis Tables National Food Distribution Audit Report
#TheBahamas, May 18, 2022 – During a Communication in the House of Assembly, by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis, tabling an Audit
Report into the operations of the National Food Distribution Task Force and the National Food Distribution Programme, on May 16, 2022, he said that his Government had found it “consistently difficult to obtain genuine answers”, about operations.
“In the case of the Food Programme, requests for credible documentation of how $53 million was spent have not been answered,” Prime Minister Davis said. “To be clear, documents have been provided, but they are not documents that answer the most important questions posed.”
He continued: “To make an analogy, if someone asks, ‘How much did your car cost?’, and the car owner answers, ‘My car is blue’, an answer of sorts has been provided, but not one of great relevance to the questioner.
“In the case of the Food Programme, some documents have been proffered up, but they do not provide answers to the Bahamian people’s questions.”
Prime Minister Davis said that the 138-page Audit Report “makes for startling reading”.
“In the General Findings of the Audit Report, 18 categories of major deficiencies were noted,” he said. “These ranged from a widespread lack of record-keeping, and widespread inconsistences relating to the sums of money handled, to a complete absence of minutes being kept of meetings, agreements and actions.”
“In other words, although tens of millions of the Bahamian people’s dollars were being spent, not even the most basic safeguards were in place,” he added. “A government that speechified about transparency at great length and at every opportunity did not conduct even the most basic oversight of a major government initiative.”
Prime Minister Davis said that the audit was astounding in documenting “the failures of the government” in establishing reporting and monitoring protocols, or internal controls. He noted that the Task Force could not provide the auditors with information that should have already been completed and readily available.
“Even in the instances where information was provided, only aggregate totals were offered, with none of the supporting documents that would be critical to corroborate the figures,” he said. “There’s no back-up provided: no contracts, no cheques, no receipts and no bank statements to support the information. No evidence, in other words.”
“It is noteworthy, too, that some organisations concerned have still refused to provide any information whatsoever,” he added.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, given the sums of money involved, “the deficiencies are breath-taking”.
“Public Officers did not have oversight of the expenditure of funds,” he said. “Expenditure of millions of dollars remains unexplained and undocumented.
“No audited financial statements have been provided, so information provided by the NGOs cannot be confirmed.”
He added: “Information Dashboards presented by the Task Force did not reconcile to the information provided by NGOs. So, for example, just to highlight the point, if the
“In fact, numerous instances have been identified when the NGOs concerned did not account for the total amount funds received from the Government,” Prime Minister Davis continued. “As I said in the Mid-Year Budget, we uncovered $2 million that was sitting in an NGO’s account. I am happy to say that money was then recovered for the Bahamian taxpayer. Are there millions more sitting idle in other accounts?”
Prime Minister Davis noted that there was no consistent system of recordkeeping at the Task Force or NGO level; and it was simply not credible to believe that from May 2020 to October 2021, they were too busy to keep proper records.
“And some of the records which were kept, raise even bigger questions. Why were such exorbitant fees paid for some services?” he added.
Prime Minister Davis gave the example of one restaurant being paid $6 per box for the delivery of each food parcel. That, he noted, amounted to approximately $50,000 per month.
“Why did they pay $6 to deliver a single parcel of corned-beef, flour, rice and the other very basic items they delivered to families in need?” he said. “The delivery cost would have been more than the food itself.
“And to this day, despite numerous requests, two NGOs have still not provided any information at all, and combined, they received more than $10 million.
“$10 million of the Bahamian people’s money, has simply vanished.”
Prime Minister Davis also called on those with knowledge of the underlying facts to come forward. Those who had failed to provide answers and evidence still have an opportunity – and an obligation – to do so, he added.
“We do not prejudge the circumstances we have uncovered,” he said. “We cannot say definitively whether we are looking at jaw-dropping incompetence … or something considerably worse.
“For now, I encourage the Bahamian people to read the Audit Report for themselves.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks during a Communication in the House of Assembly, tabling an Audit Report into the operations of the National Food Distribution Task Force and the National Food Distribution Programme, on May 16, 2022.
(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
BAMSI officials meet with representatives from Central State
#TheBahamas, May 18, 2022 – Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) is set to increase its academic footprint through an expanded partnership with Central State University. Students from both institutions now have the opportunity to study at the partnering school and receive full credits. The discussions to put parameters in place for the relationship took place when Central State representatives recently paid a courtesy call on BAMSI Chairman Tyrel Young and his executive team.
While the two academic agencies have previously collaborated, both sides are now seeking to formalize the relationship for the benefit of their student population, faculty and staff. BAMSI President, Senator, the Hon, Dr. Erecia Hepburn, said the growing relationship would assist BAMSI in developing agripreneurs and agri-educators, who would in turn positively impact the nation’s move to food security.
She added also for Bahamian students from the Andros-based Institute, the partnership means that as graduates, they will be able to make a smooth transition into a bachelor’s programme, which is offered both online and in-person. BAMSI students will also be able to participate in a Study Abroad programme where they spend a semester at Central State campus.
Calling it a “blending of communities”, Alaasis Braynen, General Manager of BAMSI, said as a result of the meeting, BAMSI is now able to facilitate a smooth transition for graduating seniors to enter a bachelor’s degree programme at Central State University.
“We are positioning ourselves to establish scholarships for both campuses. At the end of the day, as our relationship continues to be forged, students who take advantage of the partnership will have exposure to medium/large scale mechanized agriculture and, on our end, tropical agriculture,” he said. “Central State students would have another benefit also, to experience marine science in the Caribbean.”
Mr Braynen said whether BAMSI students choose to have a semester abroad or pursue their bachelor’s degree with Central State, their resume will reflect the international experience, which will go a long way in opening doors for their career. “The move to Central State may take some students out of their comfort zone,” he said, “but at the end of their assignment they will appreciate the international perspective and the wealth of knowledge gained as a result.”
Caption: Pictured from left are General Manager of BAMSI Alaasis Braynen, CSU’s International Recruiter Kim Hanna, President of BAMSI Senator, the Hon. Dr. Erecia Hepburn, Senior Representative from Central State University, Executive Chairman of BAMSI Senator Tyrel Young, CSU’s Vice President, Division of Institutional Advancement and Athletics Jahan Culbreath and Executive Director of BAMSI Dr. Raveenia Roberts-Hanna.
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