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BAHAMAS: New Senators Sworn In

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Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis

#TheBahamas, October 8, 2021 – New senators were sworn in during a brief ceremony held before the Official Opening of the New Parliament at Baha Mar on Wednesday, 6th October 2021.

The Senate ceremony was held in the New Providence Ballroom of the resort.

Representing the Government in the Senate are: Minister of Economic Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Ryan Pinder; Senator Lashell Adderley, Senator Barry Griffin, Senator Tyrell Young, Senator James Turner-Rolle, Senator Kirkland Russell, Senator Ronald Duncombe, Senator Quinton Lightbourne, Senator Randy Rolle, Senator Darron Pickstock, and Senator Dr. Erecia Hepburn.  Representing the Opposition in the Senate: Senator Darren Henfield, Senator Reuben Rahming, Senator Viana Gardiner, and Senator Maxine Seymour.

Senator the Hon. Ryan Pinder

Senator Lashell Adderley was nominated and appointed President of the Senate. President Adderley addressed the Senate floor with an inaugural speech highlighting the efforts of her predecessors and pledging to continue to follow in their footsteps.

She also paid homage to the nomination and appointment of another female – the new Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Hon. Patricia Deveaux — a first in Bahamian history where two females preside over both the Upper and Lower Chambers.   She also congratulated the new senators for their achievement and urged them to always act with respect, decorum and humility while carrying out their duties.

Senator the Hon. Darren Henfield

Senator Barry Griffin was elected Vice-President of the Senate.

He addressed the Senate forum and said that he was extremely humbled by the nomination and election as the youngest person ever to hold the post in that Chambe. He said he looked forward to working with his colleagues and committed to work with all to ensure the objectives of the country are met.

 

Release: BIS

By: By Betty Vedrine

 

Photo Captions:

Header: Newly appointed President of the Senate, Senator the Hon. Lashell Adderley, donned in official attire, being escorted back to the Senate after being nominated and appointed President by her peers.

Inserts: New senators representing both the Government and the Official Opposition were sworn into the Senate during a brief ceremony just prior to the Reading of the Speech from the Throne opening the 2021 Parliamentary Session.  The Senate ceremony was held in the New Providence Room, Baha Mar.  Both the Senate and House of Assembly held ceremonies at the resort as a result of the demolition exercise currently taking place in Rawson Square, where the Opening of the New Parliament historically takes place.   Ceremonies were held on Wednesday, 6th October 2021.   Pictured are: Minister of Economic Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Ryan Pinder – of the Governing Party; and Senator the Hon. Darren Henfield of her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

(BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

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Inaugural Ethiopian Airlines flight arrives for historic Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM 2024) in The Bahamas

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By LINDSAY THOMPSON
Bahamas Information Services

HE Mahamadou Issoufou, former president, Republic of Niger, and Leader of the African Continental Free Trade Area

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Just before 5pm on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 Ethiopian Airlines – a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner — touched down at Jet Aviation bringing 241 delegates for the historic 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM 2024), and the Third Edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) in the capital.

It was also history in the making for Ethiopian Airlines – its inaugural flight to The Bahamas: touching down under hazy skies and warm conditions indicative of June weather.

On hand for the arrival was the Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Immigration and National Insurance, as well as other officials.

The Department of Immigration and Jet Aviation set up a welcome desk near the tarmac, to allow for a smooth process, and offered water and soft drinks.

Among delegates were His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, Former President, Republic of Niger and Leader of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, former prime minister of Ethiopia; Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson for the African Union Commission/United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; international media, performers and musicians, and other conference participants.

It is the first time AAM will be held in the Caribbean region. The meetings will run June 12 – 14, 2024 at Baha Mar Resort, Cable Beach. The theme for the event is: “Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa.”

It is envisioned that the impact of the three-day event will be heightened by the Opening Ceremony, the Presidential Plenary, and high-level panel sessions.

On April 11, 2024, The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) signed an Agreement for The Bahamas to host the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM) and the third edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) from 12 – 14 June 2024.

At that signing, Prime Minister Davis underscored the importance of his country hosting the historic meetings.

He said: “Hosting both the AAM and ACTIF demonstrates the determination and commitment of The Bahamas to leverage on the shared history, identities, and cultures of AfriCaribbean nations to forge significantly greater trade, investment, and direct transport linkages.”

Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson for the African Union Commission escorted by Ivan Thompson, Protocol Division Ministry of Foreign Affairs

And added: “Doing so will stimulate economic growth and development, which will feed through to immensely beneficial societal impact. It is also vital that we enhance our global influence by speaking with a unified voice on matters such as securing global action to meaningfully address climate change.”

The focus will be on the emerging neo-protectionism from advanced economies and the need for Africans to pursue self-determination in the context of a global Africa that includes the Caribbean and the Diaspora generally.

The AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) will be marked by colourful events to celebrate shared AfriCaribbean culture, as well as elevate the essence of the two regions’ shared socio-economic aspirations.

Among the Keynote Speakers are: the Hon Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas; the Hon Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados; His Excellency Dr. Irfaan Ali, Chairperson of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and President of Guyana; and His Excellency Issoufou, Former President, Republic of Niger and Leader of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Other speakers include Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs, The Bahamas; His Excellency Ulrich “Rick” Alexander Fox, Ambassador-at-Large of The Bahamas and CEO of Partanna Global; Dr. Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., Former Vice-Chair of the Federal Reserve, USA; and Mr. Jeannel Wyclef Jean, Musician, Muse IC Incorporated.

(BIS Photos/Mark Ford)

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Minister of Tourism forecasts another record-breaking year

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By LINDSAY THOMPSON
Bahamas Information Services

 

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper said evidence shows The Bahamas is heading towards another record-breaking year in tourism, over last year’s estimated eight million visitors.

He was making a contribution to the Budget Debate in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, outlining plans in the 2024/2025-budget cycle for his areas of responsibility — tourism, investments and aviation.

“Our year-to-date figures for 2024 have surpassed all expectations, building on the momentum of previous years. We are not resting on our laurels. Team Tourism will continue to deploy winning strategies – as we did last year,” the deputy prime minister said.

He shared that from January to April 2024, there has been a significant increase in foreign air and sea arrivals, marking a 12.4 percent rise compared to the same period in the record setting 2023.

“Simply put, that translates to almost 4 million visitors in 4 months.  If this average holds and we hope it does, a million a month will result in a 20 percent increase year over year or 12 million overall arrivals at year-end,” the minister said.

He stated that this growth not only highlights the country’s resilience but also underscores the enduring allure as a premier travel destination.

“Each month of 2024 has brought with it a wave of visitors eager to experience the beauty, culture, and hospitality of our islands.

“Our diverse islands have each contributed to our stellar performance.  And the future of Bahamian tourism appears brighter than ever,” the minister said.

He noted that the ministry’s strategic initiatives, marketing campaigns, and continuous improvements in infrastructure and services are poised to attract more visitors.

“The figures we see today are not a product of chance but the result of strategic planning, targeted initiatives, and dedicated efforts,” he said. “Our tourism strategy has been multifaceted, involving strategic partnerships, enhancing airlift capacities, and executing missions across key cities in the USA and Canada.”

According to the minister, the diverse islands have each contributed to tourism’s stellar performance.

He reported that Nassau/Paradise Island remains the most popular destination, welcoming 1,870,438 visitors from January to April 2024, a 13.2 percent increase from the same period last year.  Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Eleuthera have also shown remarkable growth, with increases of 6.8 percent, 3.8 percent, and 2.7 percent respectively.

Also, Grand Bahama and Abaco continue to lead the way in the increase in arrivals by air with 7 percent and 15.5 percent respectively. The Berry Islands, in particular, have seen an impressive 13.3 percent rise in arrivals.

“Cruise tourism continues to play a significant role in our success story,” he said.

From January to April 2024, the country recorded 3,210,541 cruise arrivals, marking a 14.8 percent increase from 2023.

“This surge speaks to the strong partnerships we have forged with major cruise lines and the appeal of our ports of call.

“Our stopover visitors have shown a strong preference for extended stays, reflecting their desire to fully immerse themselves in the Bahamian experience,” he said.

It is estimated the average spend per cruise passenger is just over $100, while stopover visitors spend around $2,800 each.

“We’re driving spending. By the way, we are working tremendously hard to grow that cruise spend number by deploying strategies to increase the number of guests disembarking, improving numbers of tours, and deploying strategies like the smart city initiative,” the minister said.

He stressed, “This significant expenditure has contributed to an estimated total direct tourist spend in the range of $6 billion, underscoring the critical role tourism plays in our economy. And we’re growing jobs.”

The deputy prime minister also spoke to the continued revitalization of Downtown Nassau, and the work of the Tourism Development Corporation, which is the establishment of incubators.

“These incubators will serve as hubs for nurturing entrepreneurial talent and innovation within the tourism sector,” he said.

He touted as one of the highlights of this budget process, the $125 million Saudi Fund for Development loan to accelerate the Airport Renaissance Program throughout the Family Islands.

“We are leaping forward with our Family Islands Renaissance Project with a Request for Proposals (RFP) to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain a portfolio of 14 airports across Grand Bahama and our Family Islands,” he confirmed.

He revealed that an expansion plan is underway to revamp the local Aviation Industry.

“Changing the face of the Aviation industry is a herculean task and there are many, many moving parts. The work continues, but we have made critical achievements,” he said.

According to the minister, Foreign Direct Investment “is without question the fastest way to grow our economy, and we are doing our part to attract and secure these investments.

“Since coming to office, we have approved more than $8.5 billion in new Foreign Direct Investment.

“This is a monumental show of confidence in The Bahamas, our economy and our administration. Our investment strategy has been robust and far-reaching.”

(BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs)

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Major Projects Underway for the Country Forecast to Further Reduce Unemployment

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By BETTY VEDRINE
Bahamas Information Services

 

NASSAU, The Bahamas —  The government’s strategy to attract investments to spur economic activity is “paying off,” said Minister of Economic Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis during his contribution to the 2024/25 Budget Debate on Wednesday, 19th June in the Senate.

“We have seen unprecedented investments in major projects already underway throughout our islands,” said Mr. Halkitis.  “The  Royal Beach Club on Paradise Island, Celebration Key on Grand Bahama, and Lookout Cay on Eleuthera are  examples of major ongoing investments.”

He said that a total of over $8 billion in investments have been approved. This amount includes eight and nine figure investments on various  Family Islands and over $2 billion in investments on Grand  Bahama.

“We are targeting investments on all islands and moving away from overly Nassau-centric investment models,” he said. He said that these investments will not only expand employment  opportunities, but will also expand business opportunities as Bahamian vendors, suppliers, and service providers benefit as well.

Consequently, he said that last year, the employment rate went down to 8.8  percent.  “That was the lowest rate seen since 2008. The National Statistical Institute is currently conducting the 2024 Labour Force Survey,” said Senator Halkitis.  “We are anticipating more good news as we continue to prioritize getting Bahamians working again.”

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