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Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs Hosts Risk Assessment Workshop

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#TheBahamas, April 26, 2022 – Non-Profit Organizations were invited to participate in a workshop to assist the government in meeting its goal of becoming fully compliant to Recommendation 8 of the Financial Action Task Force’s Risk Assessment Criteria in relation to Non-Profit Organizations. The country’s rating as it relates to Non-Profit Organizations is currently ‘Partially Compliant’ since the last assessment in 2021.  A two-day workshop was conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs at Baha Mar April 5-6, 2022 led by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Hon. Ryan Pinder.

Among the participants were church leaders, controllers and presidents of charitable organizations and other stakeholders. Also in attendance was the Minister of State in the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Hon. Jomo Campbell.  Moderators for the event included Dr. Cassandra Nottage, National Identified Risk Co-ordinator and Tiffany Moss, Senior Counsel/Chief Compliance Officer at the Office of the Attorney General.

Minister Pinder said that the NPO Risk Assessment Training and Workshop is a very important and necessary exercise, given the important role that the sector plays in the country’s economy.

“As most of you would know, The Bahamas is a founding member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) , the regional Financial Action Task Force (FATF) body. In 2015, The Bahamas underwent an assessment of its implementation of the FATF 40 Recommendations. Of these, Recommendation 8, which deals with non-profit organizations, was evaluated as “Partly Compliant” by examiners.  A partially compliant rating essentially means that The Bahamas has not fully implemented the requirements of Recommendation 8, and there are deficiencies within its legislative framework.”

The objective of Recommendation 8 is to ensure that NPOs are not misused by terrorist organizations:

1.To pose as legitimate entities.

2.To exploit legitimate entities as conduits for terrorist financing, including for the purpose of escaping asset freezing measures.

3.To conceal or obscure the clandestine diversion of funds intended for legitimate purposes, but diverted for terrorist purposes.

Mr. Pinder said that currently, there are approximately 1,047 NPOs registered in the country.  He explained that the Compliance Unit has completed the process of a preliminary assessment of the sector by conducting a desktop review to enable the risk profiling of each individual NPO.

The team, he said, has employed risk rating criteria, which when coupled with the detailed analysis of information obtained from questionnaires, and interviews, will allow an identification and comprehensive assessment of the types of NPOs that are likely to be at risk of terrorist financing abuse.

“The results of the risk assessment exercise will inform a risk based or, in other words ‘targeted’ supervision and monitoring of the NPO sector in The Bahamas,” he said.

“I am sure it will bring much comfort to many of you if the outcome of this risk assessment demonstrates that you are at little to no risk for terrorist financing abuse. This will, no doubt, place you in a low risk category with little supervision and monitoring. If the outcome, however, if there are risks to terrorist financing abuse, and corresponding vulnerabilities due to the nature of your activities and engagement with international elements, then by all means, enhanced monitoring and supervision would be warranted.”

He noted the vital role NPOs play in the local economy, but said they also play a role in the global economy. “Your efforts complement government activities in providing essential services as well as comfort and in many cases, spiritual guidance and hope to those in need, “he said. “NPOs have been a critical partner in providing much needed assistance with disaster relief efforts in The Bahamas and throughout the world. We have seen this first hand with our own experiences with Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Our NPOs were on the ground providing support to thousands of Bahamians; along with many of our churches, which were involved. These efforts are commendable.”

He said, however, that despite legitimate efforts, the events of September 11 coupled with the ongoing international campaign against terrorist financing have demonstrated that terrorists and terrorist organizations exploit the NPO sector to raise and move funds, provide logistical support, encourage terrorist recruitment or otherwise support terrorist organizations and operations. This misuse, he emphasized, undermines donor confidence and compromises the integrity of NPOs.

The Minister explained that in May 2021, The Bahamas applied to the CFATF for a re-rating of FATF Recommendations, which were rated as partially compliant and two recommendations were revised since the Bahamas’ Mutual Evaluation.  During The CFATF Plenary in December 2021, The Bahamas received nine upgrades, one downgrade and two ratings were maintained. Recommendation 15 was downgraded from Largely Compliant and Recommendation 8 maintained a rating of Partially Compliant.

“The completion of the risk assessment, with your input through questionnaires and interviews, will enable The Bahamas to further comply with Recommendation 8.  In May 2022, next month, The Bahamas will make an application for an upgrade from “partially compliant” to “largely compliant” or better yet “fully compliant.”

During her overview of The FATF Recommendation 8, Tiffany Moss pointed out that several criteria increased the risk of NPOs as it relates to terrorist finance abuse, including those with annual turnovers of $75,000 or higher and cross-border movement of cash (such as those with parent companies or affiliates in another jurisdiction), among other risk levels.

 

Letisha Henderson

(BIS)

Bahamas News

Minister Moxey says AAM2024 is significant to the country

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Making an address on the first day of Afreximbank’s Annual Meetings (AAM) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2024 on Wednesday, June 12, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey pointed out the significance of the meetings in The Bahamas, and the impact on Grand Bahama.

It is the first time AAM is held in the Caribbean region.  The 31st AAM sessions 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.”

She said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this AAM and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum is critical for nurturing the relationship we have intentionally progressed over the last few years, including the historic signing between Afreximbank and CARICOM, unlocking an astounding $1.5 billion in funding; the many trade missions between both regions; and tomorrow the signing of a Project Preparation Facility with Afreximbank and the Government of The Bahamas on the development of an Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center on Grand Bahama Island – my island — a magnificent center for the promotion of tourism, commerce and trade between both regions.

“As we contemplate the historical ties that bind us, may we recognize the significant role of trade and the immense opportunities that lie before us.

“Trade has always been the lifeblood of economies, and as we join hands to explore new avenues, great things will happen.”

Minister Moxey continued, “The Bahamas, with its strategic location and well-established infrastructure, stands as a gateway…and it is at the crossroads of two-way trade.

“Our beautiful country has emerged as a major transshipment terminal, facilitating the seamless flow of goods and creating linkages across continents.”

The Caribbean region is focused on trade and investment opportunities with Africa, and the meeting in Nassau demonstrates the importance of the matter, she said.

In closing, she said, “The Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center will not only boost economic growth but also strengthen the bonds of friendship and cultural understanding between both regions.”

 

PHOTO CAPTION

1st insert –  At the Welcome Reception for Afreximbank’s 31st Annual Meetings (AAM 2024) at Baha Mar Resort, Wednesday, Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Ginger Moxey, at podium, gives an address on the importance of the meetings.

2nd insert – In photos, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper chats with Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Mottley.

(BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs and Eric Rose)

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Disaster Risk Management Authority streamlines response agencies for greater effectiveness; this year, very active hurricane season predicted

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By BETTY VEDRINE
Bahamas Information Services

 

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The newly formed Disaster Risk Management Authority (DRM Authority), held a press conference, June 4, 2024 to mark the official opening of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. This season — which commences June 1 and ends November 30 — is anticipated to be the most active one seen in decades.  The press conference took place at the Disaster Risk Management Operations Centre, formerly NEMA, on Gladstone Road.

State Minister Leon Lundy

In attendance were: Minister of State in the Office of the Prime with the Responsibility for Disaster Preparedness and Management, the Hon. Leroy Lundy, along with several officials, DRM Authority Managing Director Aarone Sargent; DRM Authority Chairman Alex Storr; Director/former National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Captain Stephen Russell; and Permanent Secretary, Marcellus Taylor.

Delivering brief remarks, Minister Lundy assured the public that the government is taking every precaution to ensure the safety and welfare of Bahamians during the season.

“Our vision is clear: to have a country where every citizen and resident feels secure in the face  of a storm.  The government, along with our dedicated agencies, has been working relentlessly to enhance our disaster preparedness and response capabilities.  Central to these efforts is the establishment of the Disaster Risk Management Authority (DRM Authority), a body created to streamline and strengthen our disaster management functions,” said Mr. Lundy.

“The formation of the DRM Authority represents a pivotal change in our approach. By merging NEMA and the [DRM Authority], we have created a unified entity focused on preparing for, mitigating, and responding to disasters with unparalleled precision and efficiency. This consolidation ensures a comprehensive and cohesive framework for disaster risk management, embracing innovation to fortify our resilience.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric  Administration (NOAA) projects 8 to 13 hurricanes, with 4 to 7 of those being major hurricanes.  Mr. Lundy said that this ‘sobering’ forecast requires the highest level of preparedness and vigilance.

As Bahamians, he said, the nation has “faced the wrath of nature time and again” with hurricanes such as Frances, Joaquin, Matthew, and Dorian, which “have tested our resilience and left indelible marks on our history. However, it is from these trials that we draw our strength and resolve. Today, I  stand before you with an unwavering determination to outline our vision for a resilient and prepared Bahamaland.”

He explained that the DRM Authority is tasked with developing and implementing the National Disaster Risk Management Plan and the National Disaster Emergency Plan. These strategic blueprints, he said, cover risk assessment, disaster risk mitigation, preparedness measures, financial safeguards, and the strengthening of governance frameworks.

“Our ultimate goal is unequivocal: to enhance the  safety and security of our citizens in the face of hurricanes,” he said. “Our nation sits in the heart of Hurricane Alley, and the predictions are daunting. Yet, I have  complete faith in the dedication and capability of the agencies represented here today to  protect our people and our future.  The Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas  Police Force, the Water and Sewerage Corporation, BPL, BTC, Aliv, The Department of  Meteorology, The Department of Family Island Affairs, our Emergency Support Function  Groups (ESFs), and the DRM Authority all stand ready to meet the challenge.”

DRM Authority Chairman Alex Storr

He said that each agency plays a critical role in disaster preparedness and response strategy. He said that the government has been fortifying its ability to meet the requirements to meet its objectives, including upgrading the incident command systems for more effective coordination during disasters and deploying satellite data  systems throughout the Family Islands to provide real-time, high-quality insights for decision making. “Additionally, we are partnering with regional allies to incorporate advanced  technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Systems for rapid damage assessment and AI-driven early warning systems, thereby enhancing our ability to respond swiftly and effectively,” he said.

Mr. Lundy pointed out, however, that the government needed every Bahamian to take personal responsibility for their own preparedness. “Our message is simple and urgent: Don’t wait! Get  storm-ready now! Take the necessary steps to protect your home, your family, and your business. Ensure you have your supplies: stock up on canned goods, shutters or plywood, extra prescriptions, and other essentials. Make a plan and communicate it with your loved ones.  Knowing what to do in the event of a hurricane can save lives,” he said.  “Let us draw from the hard-earned lessons of past storms. We have harnessed those  experiences to strengthen our disaster management approach, and now we must apply that knowledge to prepare for what lies ahead.”

Representatives from a cross-section of agencies also gave preliminary reports on the progress in their respective areas. Those contributors included: Senior Officer, Bahamas Department of Meteorology, Jeffrey Greene; Chief Welfare Officer, Department of Social Services, Andrea Newbold; Officer in Charge of Communication in the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Superintendent Marlon Grant; and Officer for Training, Development and Disaster Management in the Department of Public Works, Bradley King.

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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Grand Bahama as Center for Innovation says Minister in Budget presentation

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, June 18, 2024 – The Phillip Davis administration in The Bahamas is moving to establish Grand Bahama as the “center of innovation” for the Caribbean, with focus on digital nomads, tech campuses, incubators, and an innovation fund.

Making the disclosure during her contribution to the 2024-2025 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, recently, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey said the main driver to build the economy of the area will be the Innovate242 Incubator, which has been set for completion by the end of the year.

The Minister who is serving as the co-chair of the Innovate242 Cabinet Subcommittee which was designed to establish the area as a showpiece for innovation in the Caribbean, said the Incubator will serve as a creative business center to cater to entrepreneurs as a ‘one-stop-shop” for business development from concept to launch.

“Of the four pillars, because of the immediate impact that it will have on empowering Bahamian entrepreneurs, the incubators have been made top priority. In the first instance, the islands of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Exuma have been identified for Incubators.  The second phase will include the islands of Cat Island, Eleuthera and Andros,” the Minister told the House.

She said the Incubator will be spearheaded by the Tourism Development Corporation, in collaboration with the Ministry for Grand Bahama, and will include representation from organisations such as the Bahamas Development Bank, Small Business Development Center, Inland Revenue, Bahamas Invest, Licensing Department of Grand Bahama Port Authority, Invest Grand Bahama, the Bahamas Trade Commission; a creative producer, and a technology-based provider.

Adding that the facility will house the centre for sustainability, to create an ecosystem for organisations, international and local, she said it will focus on research and development innovation, Climate Change, sustainability, inclusiveness, and will also converge and collaborate to create sustainable master plans for each island, with the capacity to expand to the rest of the region.

Ather aspects of the development will include the launch of the Young Innovators Club, through Innovate242, geared at inspiring innovation among the young people, while encouraging them to become involved in the sustained growth and development of The Bahamas.

“The focus areas of the Club will include themes of empowerment of the Bahamian people, sustainable development goals, the creation and promotion of Bahamian products, boat building competition, and the innovation and green technology competitions,” the Minister said.

The Minister further said the Innovate242 Incubator initiative will be utilised as a space for the young innovators where their creative juices can follow, and there are more to come, and that the people of Grand Bahama have advocated from then to now for the development.

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