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Bahamas NIB Minister explains dire situation and need for July increases

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Rashaed Esson
Staff Writer 

 

The Bahamas’ National Insurance Board (NIB) is facing financial issues, at risk of being unable to pay off its debts by 2028, as revealed by Alfred M. Sears, Minister of Immigration and National Insurance in the Mid-year Budget Performance report.

This unfortunate development is according to NIB’s 11th Actuarial Report, facilitated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and it is calling for swift solutions to restore the capacity of the NIB fund.

Sears, in a release of the report, published on March 7th, goes into the details of the NIB’s dilemma, saying that the Board’s annual income, which includes contribution and investment earnings, is not enough to cover its expenditure fee, inclusive of benefits and administrative costs, “especially in the Long Term (Pensions) Benefits Branch.

The contributing factors to the issue take different forms, Sears highlights. He refers to the decreasing working-age population and an increase in the elderly population, there is an imbalance. The ratio of active contributors to pensioners is currently at 3 to 1, meaning that every three workers are paying for a single pensioner.

Additionally, there is the decline of compliance; benefits expenditure dominating contribution income reductions in investment income, high administrative costs, women having fewer children, and individuals living longer and this simply means a much larger and unsustainable burden for the workforce to shoulder.

If nothing is done, future generations won’t be able to benefit from the NIB as they should.

It is for this reason that reforms are recommended and will be implemented, as advised by the Actuarial Review.

“The Review recommended that a significant increase in the contribution rate is required to pay the full benefits in 2028,” Minister Sears informed.

As a result, come Monday July 1st, 2024, “the contribution rate for NIB will be increased by 1.5%, to be shared equally between the employer and the employee, and thereafter a 1.5% increase Every Two Years from July 1, 2024 to July 1, 2044.”

This, according to Sears, will ensure NIB’s continued provision of necessary services and benefits to Bahamians. A reliable support system for the archipelago.

In fact, with this development, Sears points out that NIB is projected to see a surplus after 2030, when its annual income will exceed the projected expenditure.

The National Insurance Board minister mentions that it is massively important for Bahamians, standing as the foundation of the nation’s social welfare system, providing support to Bahamians when times are hard.

“It would be true to say that if it were not for the National Insurance Board so many of our citizens would not have survived through Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19. For example, between 2019 and 2021, the Government, through NIB, provided income supplement and unemployment assistance to thousands of Bahamians totaling $120 million and NIB itself paid out unemployment benefits, during this period, of $131.5 million between 2019 and 2021,” he maintained.

With the coming increase in contributions, Sears expressed he understands that it might be of concern to Bahamians, so he assured them that it is made to be reasonable and proportionate.

“The phased approach will allow for adjustments to be made gradually, giving each person time to plan and prepare accordingly,” he said.

In continuation, there is more coming beyond the increased contribution, according to Sears.

He said there will also be a comprehensive programme of reform of NIB which will include  “legislative amendments to the National Insurance Act, the National Insurance (Chronic Diseases Prescription Drug Fund) Act, the National Insurance (Benefit and Assistance) (Amendment) Regulations, and the National Insurance (Contributions)(Amendment) Regulations to strengthen financial sustainability and
accountability.”

Additionally, there will be more changes that are “a global and internal recruitment of qualified Bahamian professionals into the executive management of NIB,  to bring about transformative advancements in NIB’s “digital and IT infrastructure, better customer relations, more efficient and effective Human Resource management, reduce administrative costs and improve the investment strategy to produce a better rate of return.”

Bahamas News

$36 Million Dollar Upgrade for World Athletics Relays in Nassau, Bahamas

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

 

After years of thorough maintenance, The Thomas A Robinson National Stadium in The Bahamas is finally getting a multi-million dollar makeover, readying the 10 year old facility ahead of the World Athletics Relays on May  5, 2024; it is being staged in Nassau for the fourth time. 

 

This $36 million refurbishment is being funded by the Chinese Government, as part of a vision to enhance the country’s sport infrastructure to benefit youths in athletics. The stadium was gifted to The Bahamas in 2012 by the Chinese.

 

The relay is the qualifying event for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games and there will be 32 national teams, in each relay event, and 20 races on both days of competition, according to World Athletics. 

Day 1, will have 20 heats across the five olympic events (4 heats each for 4×100, 4×400, men, women and mixed) and will qualify 40 teams for the Summer Olympics.  The top two teams from each heat will directly qualify for the Games.

On day 2, 30 more national teams will be qualified through 15 repechage heats and five finals, across those five events.

 

The upgrades which include new trusses, rooftops, seats, the lawn, score boards, LED displays and more, are expected to be complete at least two weeks before the relays, being held under the theme: ‘Chase the  Sun’. 

 

In a special ceremony on Monday April 8, The Bahamas Prime Minister, Philip Davis said:

 

In December 2023, our shared vision took shape, as the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and the government of the People’s Republic of China, inked an implementation agreement for the renovation of the stadium. This gesture of goodwill and friendship, from the Chinese government to undertake the China Aid Maintenance and Renovation project of our national stadium, stands as a testament to the strong bonds that unite our countries. This project, executed by China Urban Construction Research Institute Company Limited, and the China Machinery Industry Construction Group Company Limited, reflects our shared commitment to excellence, innovation and mutual development.”

 

Additionally, H.E Dai Qingli, outgoing Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas who also attended that ceremony, spoke. 

 

“At the end of the project, the Bahamian people will get a fully renewed and modern world class stadium because everything is going to be either renewed or repaired,” she said.

Some 1600 athletes will be in The Bahamas for the World Athletics relays, with five events.  The Bahamas won the bid over Lausanne, Rome in 2022.

 

 Mario Bowleg,  Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture in reports, thanked China for their contribution to the redevelopment of the stadium. 

 

“We thank them for their commitment to ensuring that they bring this facility back up to A1 standard so that we can continue holding international events and using these facilities as a development of our young people.”

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Bahamas News

Grand Bahama Airport Demolition

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BIS Photo: Lisa Davis

Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

TheBahamas#TheGrandBahamaAirportDemolition, April 10, 2024 – The demolition of the Grand Bahama International Airport has begun, to start transformative construction as previously announced by Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Aviation and Investments, Chester Cooper, last month. Cooper says a new state of the art facility will be created to redefine Grand Bahama’s access to global opportunities and meet international standards.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bahamas News

Saxons Brass Section Thanks CWCO for Continued Commitment

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NASSAU, BAHAMAS (April 9th, 2024) Behind the vibrant costumes and electrifying beats of Junkanoo parades are committed members, mentors, and supporters such as Consolidated Water (Bahamas) Ltd. (CWCO). In a heartfelt acknowledgment of years of generous support, the Saxons Superstars’ brass section, High Voltage Brass, recently visited the water supplier to present a plaque of appreciation.

Jeremy Adderley, speaking on behalf of High Voltage Brass, said, “Without CWCO’s support, we would not have had the brass costumes needed to compete and secure our two-straight victory. Their support also helps us as we plan lessons for our young members to enhance their musicianship skills, not just for Junkanoo but for college and beyond.”

Adderley highlighted that the plaque is a token of High Voltage Brass’ immense gratitude for CWCO helping the Saxons Superstars keep culture alive and for being a steadfast partner in developing future leaders.

He added, “Every year, it is a struggle to make it to Bay Street. Many of our members are eager to participate, despite their circumstances, and every year our group continues to grow. Thanks to CWCO’s generosity, we look forward to continuing to grow and succeed alongside their great team and establishment.”

Henderson Cash, CWCO’s General Manager, said, “Receiving this plaque from the Saxons Superstars is a profound honor for us at CWCO. It symbolizes the strong relationship we’ve built over the years, rooted in mutual respect and a shared commitment to preserving Bahamian heritage.

“Our support for the Saxons Superstars’ brass section is emblematic of our broader mission to invest in our community’s vibrancy and the potential of its young people. We are deeply committed to continuing this support and fostering the traditions that make our culture so unique.”

 

Photo Caption: The Saxons Superstars’ brass section, High Voltage Brass, recently visited Consolidated Water (Bahamas) Ltd. (CWCO) to present a plaque of appreciation.

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