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Bahamas: Cost of Living Soars For Bahamians
Related to country: Bahamas

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

Cost of Living Soars
By Candia Dames -
Nassau, Bahamas:


Bahamians are paying more for everyday goods and services as the cost of living continues to climb amid weakening economic growth.

As an example, the Department of Statistics says in its latest consumer price index report that Grand Bahamians paid 21.19 percent more for electricity in the month of November compared to the previous month.

New Providence consumers also saw a continued increase in the Consumer Price Index during that period.

The report says the Consumer Price Index for Grand Bahama showed "a considerable increase" and the CPI for New Providence also "moved forward."

In New Providence, the major groups that helped moved the CPI forward were: clothing and footwear, medical care and health and food and beverages. Increases were also noted for transportation and communications, housing and other expenditures.

In Grand Bahama, the housing index was the leading group with an increase of 4.21 percent. This was followed by food and beverages and transportation and communications. Other major groups such as medical care and health, recreation and entertainment and other expenditure also showed an increase.

The report says the food and beverages index increased as items such as tomatoes rose 66.12 percent; limes/lemons, 28.58 percent; onions, 14.88 percent; grapes, 14.32 percent; bananas, 13.41 percent; lettuce, 12.41 percent; nuts, 9.10 percent; plantains, 6.98 percent; fresh peas and beans, 6.88 percent; canned and packaged soups, 6.16 percent and avocados, coconuts and other fresh fruits, 3.59 percent, also helped propel the index forward.

The increase noted in the transportation and communication index was attributed to the cost of gasoline, oil, grease and fluids increasing 1.94 percent.

In New Providence, consumers paid 33.40 percent more for tomatoes; 28.61 percent more for grapes; 20.05 percent more for lettuce; 19.10 percent more for avocados; 9.22 percent more for grapefruits; 8.82 percent more for pineapples; 7.42 percent more for sweet peppers; 4.35 percent more for bananas; 3.32 percent more for margarine; 3 percent more for butter and 2.58 percent more for canned fish and seafood.

New Providence consumers also paid 10.5 percent more for clothing and footwear, and 10.06 percent more for hospital and medical services.

HIGH ENERGY COSTS FUEL PRICE INCREASES

Economists and businesspeople have pointed to various factors that continue to impact everyday costs.

Dionisio D’Aguilar, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the main reason for rising costs in 2007 was the substantial increase in energy prices.

He noted that at the beginning of 2007, the price of a barrel of oil was $55. It is now averaging $91 a barrel.

"During the course of 2007 the price of propane that Super Wash purchases increased by 32 percent," said Mr. D’Aguilar, who owns the popular laundry chain.

"We have not increased our prices during 2007, so we’re going to have to increase our prices. That’s just propane; that’s not electricity."

He noted that energy is a substantial component of many businesses and rising energy costs have forced businesses to increase prices.

"There’s nothing you can do about it," Mr. D’Aguilar said, "unless you switch to an alternative energy source, which takes time, which is not readily available and clearly the government, I think, now has to clearly consider allowing businesses to use alternative energy sources, for example, solar."

He pointed to Barbados, where the government made a conscious decision to motivate people to switch to solar energy, and provided incentives to encourage this.

Mr. D’Aguilar said dealing with the problem would require some innovate thinking.

SHIPPING COSTS UP

Mr. D’Aguilar also said energy costs are "permeating through the system."

"Shipping costs have gone up. When you land [goods] at the dock the equipment that they use at the dock requires gasoline, so that’s gone up," he said. "Your whole freight has gone up. A lot of raw materials require energy to create them into finished goods, so the prices have gone up. It’s just all the way down the supply chain; everything has gone up because energy is an important component of that cost."

Recently, Seaboard Marine announced that bunker tariffs increased this month as a direct result of crude oil price increases.

When he spoke with the Bahama Journal recently, Kristof Lingier, manager of Seaboard Marine Bahamas, stressed that the price of oil has an impact on everything.

"The plastic cups we drink in, the fuel we put in our car and the containers that are shipped in will all be affected by the increase in crude oil unfortunately. We are not talking about burning gallons; we are talking about burning tons, so you can imagine that the magnitude is completely different when it comes to actually running a ship," he said.

Over the past few months, numerous courier operators and other business proprietors have voiced concerns about the soaring price of fuel in the country – and businesspeople say the trickledown effect is being felt by consumers.

TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS FEEL IMPACT

Even tourism stakeholders are feeling the burden of rising energy costs.

As an example, Sandals Resorts said in a recent statement that after careful consideration and effective immediately, it will eliminate its recent energy surcharge.

"No one disputes the very real challenge of meeting escalating energy costs," said Gordon "Butch" Stewart, chairman of Sandals Resorts, "but we respect and highly value the opinion of our travel partners who are on the consumer front lines. We always want to do what is in their best interest and therefore after much discussion with them, we feel that now is not the time to enact this new policy."

According to Mr. Stewart, Sandals Resorts will rely further on its award-winning and ongoing sustainable tourism efforts to reduce energy use across all of its resorts.

CONSTRUCTION COSTS CLIMB

Like many other areas of the economy, the construction industry is also witnessing rising costs.

On December 4, Edward P. Williams, president of National Products Company Limited, advised that his company had been put on notice by its supplier of an increase in the price of cement as of January 1.

As a result, he wrote to customers, cement costs will increase.

Stephen Wrinkle, president of Bahamian Contractors’ Association (BCA), told the Bahama Journal that building costs are expected to continue to rise in the new year.

"It’s going to effect all of the construction trades, of course," Mr. Wrinkle said of the rising cement costs.

"I’m not sure what the retail difference is going to be at this juncture, but you know virtually every home in The Bahamas uses some concrete and cement…so it is going to have a net effect on the cost of construction."

28 December 2007

December 28, 2007 | 10:08 PM Comments  {num} comments



Americans seek the authority to search Bahamian-registered vessels suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

U.S. Pursues Security Initiative With Bahamas:
By Macushla N. Pinder -
nassau, Bahamas:


If all goes as planned, there could be an initiative in place that would give Americans the authority to search Bahamian-registered vessels suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction.
According to U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas Ned Siegel, the government is in the process of finalizing a Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

"We all know and read that keeping commercial air travelers safe is a high priority and we will continue to work with the security at the airports and seaports to make sure that the Bahamian authorities that are working those transit points are strengthened," he said.

"This initiative gives us the ability - with protocol - to board Bahamian registered ships around the world [where there is] information or intelligence [to suggest] that there may be weapons of mass destruction or materials to prevent them from even getting to port."

The Bahamas has the third largest ship registry in the world.

The Bahamas and the United States recently signed mega port and container security initiatives.

Mr. Siegel, who addressed members of the press during a roundtable Thursday, said he looks forward to continuing meetings with Cabinet ministers and listening to and understanding their priorities.

"We look forward to working with the government on the challenges ahead…I have indicated in my early meetings with the governor general, the prime minister and deputy prime minister, the United States’ desire to continue the very close and productive relationship we have had with The Bahamas," the ambassador said.

"I sense and I feel that because we have those shared values that the interest has been reciprocated from the government of The Bahamas. I have no doubt that in my short time here that our governments and people share a very deep, long and abiding commitment to the values of democracy, respect for rule of law and most importantly a deep commitment for human rights."

The Bahamas and the United States have long shared areas of mutual concern like protecting their citizens from drug trafficking, securing borders, supporting human rights, dealing with migrant smuggling as well as other criminal multi transnational organizations and potential terrorists’ threats.

"Unfortunately, in these times, we cannot put our heads in the sands. We need to think through where exposures are. We cannot allow ourselves to be a soft target," Mr. Siegel said.

"We have to understand that terrorism is a real problem and that we have to close the ways criminals exploit these smuggling routes."

During his tenure, Mr. Siegel said he also looks forward to bringing additional trade and investments to The Bahamas.

He said he is focused on economic prosperity, an achievement that no one person makes happen.

The ambassador added that while The Bahamas and the United States have had a good longstanding relationship, nothing should be taken for granted.

"It is with dialogue and understanding of what our commonalities and goals are. Our bilateral partnership is the best in the Western Hemisphere. It needs to continue to be worked on because we can take it even further," he said.

"We are people with the same desires and dreams. We want the best for our country, our family. We want to educate our children. We want to make sure that the next generation has better opportunities…It is about creating a people to people kinship…I have a large agenda, but it’s all doable."

Mr. Siegel’s relationship with The Bahamas goes as far back as 1975 when he and his family took their fist vacation to Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Since then, he has been back many times for family retreats and business meetings.

"We have wonderful fond memories of the times that we have been here…I feel now that I have come home…Without question The Bahamas is a beautiful and blessed country and I am honoured and privileged to be here as President Bush’s representative and the [representative of the] American people," Mr. Siegel said.

"In the short time I have been here, I have experienced a genuine and warm reception from everyone. I have had wonderful opportunities to meet some extraordinary Bahamians from all walks of life. It does not take long to savour the Bahamian culture."

In recent weeks, Mr. Siegel has met with various community leaders, among them Director of the Crisis Centre Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson; Director of the National AIDS Programme Dr. Perry Gomez and President and Chair of the National Drug Council Williams Weeks.

"This is just the beginning. I think an ambassador’s role is to meet and work, to touch the fabric of a community and work with its leaders, citizens and NGOs to educate, to make aware and take everyone’s agenda to the next step," the ambassador said.

Mr. Siegel was born in New Jersey and trained as an attorney, but said his true love and passion is the real estate industry.

21 December 2007

December 21, 2007 | 6:38 PM Comments  {num} comments



Who are the "Christians" and where can you find them?
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

What is a Christian?
By KARAN MINNIS, Guardian Lifestyles Reporter -
Nassau, Bahamas:


The Bahamas. A country developed upon "strong Christian" beliefs. Created by God, but developed by man, with laws and rules that reflect the essences of the Bible. Simply put, these are the theories that support our nation.

However there is one more: That we as a Christian nation, and citizens of the Bahamas, are Christians.

But how does one become a Christian? Is it a birthright or something that happens over time with careful thought and consideration? Or is it something to be learnt and thought, or does it just simply happen?

These are questions that have plagued the minds of many Bahamians for decades. And as a result some still have no idea what a Christian is.

"A Christian is simply one who is following the principles of Christ that are outlined in His Word for us to follow," says Pastor John Carey of the Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. "For one, we have to be loving and caring to those around us, particularly to those who are less fortunate than us. We must be forgiving, not to hold malice. And we must reach out to persons who are not familiar with God.

"And it's not just one part of your life, it's a lifestyle," he added. "It's a lifestyle 24, 7. Not just at church time. For example some people are Christians only when they go to church. They play dress up, but when they go home they're devils. And that's not true Christianity, because a Christian is one 24, 7. And it's a consistent lifestyle, it's nothing that you can pretend to do or be."

According to Jason Bethel, 22-year-old Christian, being a Christian requires that you attend church as much as possible.

"Church is what will keep you grounded and on the right path," he said. "I don't want people to think I'm church crazy but the only two days that I'm not in church are Mondays and Saturdays. That's it. I believe that that's how any good Christian should live. That we should be involved in as many aspects of the church ... and its development, and that we should be encouraging others to live the Christian way. That's the best kind of Christian out there, and you know we have quite a few "fakers" in the world. So we, as true and practicing Christians, must lead and show the others the right way."

The Wikepdia online encyclopedia says that over two billion people worldwide identify themselves as Christians, making it the most dominant religion in the world. That number, however, comprises a wide array of Christians from Pope Benedict XVI to Billy Graham and from Jesse Jackson to Pat Robertson.

"The best way to define 'Christianity' is to look to the historical-grammatical character of the word itself," says the website. "It originates from the first century offshoot of Judaism – an offshoot that centered on (and still centers on) the first century teacher named Jesus of Nazareth – otherwise known as Jesus 'the Christ'."

The word "Christ" literally means "Anointed One," and Christians universally believe that Jesus was and, in fact, is the "Anointed One." The central point of Christianity is that Jesus of Nazareth is "the Christ."

But, if you are still wondering, who are the "Christians" and where can you find them? According to Elize McPhee, a 42-year-old Christian mother, Christians are everywhere, but not everyone shouts it from the roof tops.

"Being a Christian is all about the way you live your daily life," she said. "If you are a Christian and say you are I don't think that persons should have to ask if you are because it should show.

"And to me a Christian is someone who is loving, non-judging, forgiving, kind hearted and someone who proclaims that Jesus Christ is the son of God. That's what a Christian should be and represent - love and faith in God. So you don't have to go church every week or sing praise songs all day long, you just have to believe in God. And you must also not be afraid to express your beliefs, that's what makes a good Christian."

According to the New Testament book of Acts, the followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch, an ancient city located on the left bank of the Orontes River in what is now Antakya in southern Turkey.

"Followers of Jesus Christ quickly spread throughout the Greco-Roman world and beyond, founding churches and changing social orders in their wake," says the website.

"Their doctrines were informed by the teachings and prolific writings of Jesus' apostles, a group of men personally chosen by Jesus to take hismessage into the world.

Many of their writings became part of the New Testament Scriptures in our Bible today.

"It therefore is logical to carry this over to today, and state that a 'Christian' today would likewise embrace the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. Therefore, a Christian, whether in the first century or twenty-first century, is best understood as one who professes a belief in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and who has staked his or her entire life on that belief."

And according to Bishop Solomon Humes, pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy on Minnie Street, the Bible is very clear on this matter.

"A Christian is someone who accepts the Lord as their Christ and Savior," said Humes. "And the Bible says that a Christian is someone who acts in God's likeness, and who tries to live that lifestyle. That's a Christian.

"But the Bible also emphasizes that becoming a true Christian requires a sincere, heartfelt decision to trust and accept Christ as one's Savior," he added. "So going to church, reading the Bible, trying to pray, and doing good works are not enough. These things are simply the result of being a good Christian, but not the cause of it. And that should be recognized and understood, because faith is what makes a Christian. And faith alone."

December 20, 2007 | 3:50 PM Comments  {num} comments



The Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, the Final Appellate Court of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas - At Work in The Islands Again
Related to country: Bahamas

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

Privy Council Sitting In Bahamas For Second Time -
By TOSHEENA ROBINSON-BLAIR:
Nassau, Bahamas:


With much pomp and pageantry, the country on Monday welcomed the U.K.-based Privy Council to The Bahamas before the law lords got down to the business of hearing the first case – a murder appeal – on their agenda while here.

On Monday, the Judicial Committee dealt with murder convict Quincy Todd’s appeal of his conviction. The delay in appeal was a result of Todd’s difficulty to obtain legal representation.

Todd was found guilty of the 1994 murder of Venette Bellizaire.

He was convicted on February 23, 1998 of the murder of the young Haitian woman and sentenced to death. It is reported that he picked up Bellizaire from a bus stop in downtown Freeport on August 25, 1994 in a grey Nissan Sunny.

The victim was never seen alive again.

The court heard that on September 21, 1994, police interviewed him and he eventually directed them to an area where skeletal remains, clothing, a watch and other jewelry were found.

Two pieces of rock with what appeared to be human hair attached to them were also discovered in the area. A pathologist determined that Bellizaire’s death was due to fractures to the skull.

Representing Todd is James Guthrie QC and local attorney Jerone Roberts.

Mr. Guthrie, the lead attorney, told the Privy Council Monday that the appeal is being made essentially on two grounds – that two crime scene photographs should not have been admitted and that an oral confession not allowed in by the trial judge at that time, Justice Joan Sawyer, was repeated during the trial.

James Dingemans QC and Cheryl Grant Bethel, deputy director of public prosecution, argued otherwise.

Mr. Dingemans, the prosecuting lead attorney, suggested that the pictures were rightfully included into evidence. He also argued that Todd’s oral confession, mentioned on the witness stand by the investigating officer, came out during cross examination by Todd’s own attorney.

In The Days Ahead

The five law lords will also hear the case of James F. Walker versus Susan Lundberg.

In this case the court ordered a sale of land owned by a man who went bankrupt. The question is could the court order the sale of his land, including his wife’s interest in the property.

A Privy Council ruling in the matter has the potential to significantly impact the country’s joint tenants law.

The two other cases to be heard is Donald King Knight versus the Attorney General of The Cayman Island and the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Limited versus the Public Utilities Commission and System Resource Group Limited.

The Right Honourable Lord Hope of Craighead advised against those concerned expecting an immediate ruling.

"The style we adopt is listening to arguments and testing it," he told the court Monday morning. "Do not expect an instant decision."

He said the court takes time to deliver a ruling in any matter.

Hearing the matters are Lord Hope, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Lord Manee and Sir Christopher Rose.

Pomp & Pageantry

Prior to the start of Monday’s proceedings, Lord Hope of Craighead inspected the guard of honour and was greeted by high-ranking police officers outside the Court of Appeal building.

The corner of Shirley and Charlotte streets was blocked off to traffic as the ceremonial inspection took place.

Following that, leading members of the judiciary welcomed the law lords.

According to the Attorney General Claire Hepburn this second visit in the space of two years is as equally historic as the first.

"The ultimate benefit from these sittings in the Bahamas beyond the repatriation of the judicial process to our shores, beyond the convenience to the litigants in these matters, may well prove to be the ability of the Bahamian people to see the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, the final appellate Court of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, at work in The Bahamas, to see that it is not some mythical grouping in the sky, but a board comprised of men and women applying Bahamian law to Bahamian legal matters," she said.

Also bringing remarks at the opening ceremony held at the Court of Appeal’s Charlotte Street building was former governor general and attorney Sir Orville Turnquest who noted that the Privy Council has set a standard for judicial excellence which has "promoted confidence, stability and reliance in the rule of law."

President of the Bahamas Bar Council Wayne Munroe pointed to the presence of members and students of the local law school. This, he said, was an experience for them to see the law being made, which they would typically only get to read about in their textbooks.

On behalf of the Privy Council, Lord Hope said the court is here because it has been invited to come.

He categorized last year’s sitting as a successful experiment and said this year’s sitting would further cement the council’s relationship with this jurisdiction.

Lord Hope noted that the Privy Council offers a service and does not seek to force itself on a state or jurisdiction that does not want it.

He said the Privy Council sits in public so that it might be seen and heard by the public and aid in the "demystification" surrounding the work the court carries out.

18 December 2007

December 19, 2007 | 10:42 PM Comments  {num} comments



Climate Change Impact On The Bahamas
Related to country: Bahamas

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

Warning On Climate Change’s Impact on Bahamas:
By Rolanda Epstein -
Nassau, Bahamas:


The Bahamas has become vulnerable to the effects of climate change with its marine life facing threats, according to the Director of Meteorology and Chairman of the National Climate Change Committee Arthur Rolle.

Mr. Rolle told the Bahama Journal on Monday The Bahamas could possibly be severely affected in the years to come due to a rise in the sea level.

Mr. Rolle attended the recent United Nations Climate Control Conference in Bali where representatives from more than 180 participating countries discussed a secure climate future for all nations.

Also attending the conference was Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr. Earl Deveaux, who addressed the attendees on The Bahamas’ views on climate control.

In 1996, a study commissioned by the government of The Bahamas showed that the maximum temperatures were increasing along with the rise in rainfall on New Providence, according to Mr. Rolle.

Mr. Rolle said studies show that in about 50 or more years from now some islands of The Bahamas could possibly be completely under water and no longer to exist.

Scientists say rising temperatures could cause sea levels to rise sharply, glaciers to melt, storms and droughts to become more intense and mass migration of climate refugees.

Mr. Rolle said the tropical cyclones The Bahamas is now experiencing are increasing in size and intensity.

"Tropical Storm Noel drenched Long Island and Exuma with 29 inches of rain in two days which represents 50 percent of the rainfall those islands usually see for the entire year," he said.

Back in 2001 at another climate control conference scientists revealed that 80 percent of The Bahamas’ land mass is vulnerable to global climate change and sea level rise.

Mr. Rolle said another climate change study showed that the one-degree rise in temperature has affected the yellow tuna, parrotfish and dolphin in the waters of The Bahamas.

"In 1998, The Bahamas experienced the worst coral bleaching and we are still trying to recover from that coral damage," he added.

"Places like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia are also experiencing coral bleaching and studies show that by 2020 the barrier reef will be no more."

Mr. Rolle said The Bahamas needs to focus on land-use planning, enforce building codes and prevent building close to the shoreline.

He said Bahamians need to be shown ways to avoid the disaster they can potentially face in the years to come due to climate change.

"The Bahamas has in place one of the finest early warning systems, but what we need to do is develop hazard plans. In the long-run we need to store emergency supplies in the event that we have these disasters," Mr. Rolle told the Bahama Journal.

The two-week sessions Mr. Rolle and Dr. Deveaux attended culminated in the adoption of the Bali roadmap, which charts the course for a new negotiating process to be concluded by 2009 that will ultimately lead to a post-2012 international agreement on climate change.

18 December 2007

December 18, 2007 | 10:22 PM Comments  {num} comments



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