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PM Davis Tables National Food Distribution Audit Report

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#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

Task Force is saying that they gave an NGO $100,000, and the NGO is saying they only received $80,000, what’s happened to the difference?”

“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.”

 

Release: BIS

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)

 

Bahamas News

Teen girl denies rape in PMH Bathroom says Nat’l Security Minister

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By Shanieka Smith

Features Writer

 

#TheBahamas, June 30, 2022 – The 14 year old girl, said to have been allegedly sexually assaulted at the Princess Margaret Hospital, in the restroom is now denying the claim.  The teenager, in media reports about the  investigation launched over the weekend denies that she was raped and that she engaged in sexual activity at the hospital.

The National Security Minister, Wayne Munroe in updating an outraged nation on the matter said he received a recent briefing from police on the matter saying that the “mother made a complaint to police with a view to saying her daughter may be engaging in sexual relations with a boyfriend.”

The briefing continued: “Whether it’s voluntary or not, that’s a crime. And so police took her to the hospital for checking. She tested positive for COVID. She was detained for COVID. And during the course of that detention, a janitor at the hospital made a report about her and a 52-year-old patient. The young child was discharged, the report was made to the police; they investigated.”

Both the young girl and the 52-year-old patient deny what the janitor reports. On Saturday, social media released the reported rape and the news spread like wildfire.

Following it was a statement from the Public Hospitals Authority, that the matter was turned over to the Royal Bahamas Police for investigation.

Minister Munroe, advised that “the police continue to investigate.”

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Flow TCI signs Three Year Deal with Bahamas Broadcasting Corporation ZNS added to Flow TV Channel Line Up

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#TurksandCaicos, June 30, 2022 – Flow TCI, full-service communications and entertainment provider, has announced a three-year partnership with the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas (BCB), enabling Flow customers to bring the popular channel ZNS to their Flow TV channel line-up starting in July 2022.

Flow TCI Country Manager, Joanne Missick, stated: “As a nation and a company that holds close ties and history with the people of the Bahamas, this agreement further strengthens our connection to our sister country and helps viewers and residents in the TCI to stay connected to these roots as well. We express our gratitude to the team from BCB and ZNS and look forward to an exciting partnership as we aim to deliver fresh, relevant content to our Flow TV customers.”

Flow TCI and BCB previously joined forces in February 2022 to live stream the program ‘Direct Talk’ with hosts David Wallace and co-host, Editor in Chief of Magnetic Media, Deandrea Hamilton, from the Crackpot Kitchen in Providenciales. The show featured guests such as Flow Country Manager, Joanne Missick, well-known local chef & owner of ‘Crackpot Kitchen’, Chef Nikita Skippings, current and former members of TCI Parliament, and a selection of accomplished Bahamian and Turks & Caicos Islanders.

The broadcast was powered by Flow’s latest Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) service from around Providenciales and at Mudjin Harbour in Middle Caicos.

Executive Chairman, BCB, Picewell Forbes, commented: “On behalf of the Board of Directors and the management team of the BCB, the profound pleasure is to join the team at Flow Turks and Caicos as we embark on this new journey. We celebrate today in a spirit of collegiality where the Bahamas and TCI continue to grow and cover these islands the way only we can—together.”

Acting General Manager, ZNS Bahamas, Darren Meadows added: “Thank you to the Country Manager and senior leadership team of Flow TCI for their continued partnership with BCB to take the ZNS signal to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. This is impetus for us to do more projects with Flow in the TCI beyond the ZNS network channel to incorporate content from both countries into programs and events.”

ZNS will launch on Flow TV on July 4 in the Flow TV Essential Package on Channel 107.

For more information on the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas (BCB) and ZNS visit znsbahamas.com

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Grand Bahama Minister invites residents to enjoy the Independence Celebrations

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By: Robyn Adderley

From: Bahamas Information Services

 

#TheBahamas, June 30, 2022 – Residents and visitors alike were on Wednesday, June 29 encouraged by Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey to participate in the upcoming Independence celebrations during a press conference at the Ministry.

Being held under the theme “Proud To Be Bahamian” Minister Moxey said with this theme in mind, she thinks of the many Bahamians proudly displaying the colours of the flag while excelling in their various sporting disciplines such as NBA stars Klay Thompson and Buddy Hield, track sensations Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Ubo, professional baseball player Jazz Chisholm, along with others making contributions in the areas of music, film, visual arts, science and others.

“These proud Bahamians unapologetically represent the 242 on the global stage, and they remind me how blessed this nation called The Bahamas truly is.”

The Minister continued, “This year’s Independence Celebrations are very special for several reasons; firstly, the residents of Grand Bahama will unite as a community to give praise and thanks to God for His grace and mercy, and His continued guidance and protection, after everything this island has been through.

“Secondly, we are officially on the road to marking our nation’s 50th year of Independence, The Bahamas’ Golden Jubilee!

“For this reason, we proudly celebrate our culture and heritage, and my Ministry in conjunction with the Independence Committee will kick off Independence activities this Thursday June 30th (my birthday) at the Eight Mile Rock Fish Fry and Unity Rush Out in Sunset Village, Eight Mile Rock at 7pm.”

The four, Category (A), Junkanoo Groups participating in the rush out are The Swingers, Classic Dancers, Superstar Rockers and Platinum Knights. During the press conference, the Swingers presented Minister Moxey with a special junkanoo piece as an early birthday present.

Events are scheduled for East to West Grand Bahama, beginning Thursday with the Eight Mile Rock Fish Fry and Unity Rush Out in Sunset Village, and ending on July 11 with the return of the Pelican Point Coconut Festival in East Grand Bahama.

The public is advised that as a matter of importance, for the public’s safety, COVID-19 Protocols will be enforced at all events. Event goers are encouraged to wear their masks at all the events to ensure their safety.

“So, this is a clarion call to the public to get involved; pull out those flags, those Bahamian colors; because YES! WE PROUD TO BE A BAHAMIAN!!,” she said.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey on Wednesday, June 29 announced plans for the upcoming Independence celebrations being held under the theme, “Proud to be Bahamian.”

1st insert: Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey on Wednesday, July 29 announced plans for the upcoming Independence celebrations.  Minister Moxey is seen with the committee members.

2nd insert: Representatives from the Swingers Junkanoo Group on Wednesday, June 29 presented Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey, will a special piece in recognition of her birthday on Thursday. The first Grand Bahama Independence activity will be held then at the Eight Mile Rock Fish Fry and Unity Rush Out in Sunset Village at 7pm.

 

(BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)

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