Minnis Still Channeling Prime Minister Christie

Bradley-RobertsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29th December 2016

Press Statement
Bradley B Roberts
National Chairman
Progressive Liberal Party

4.5 years later, Dr. Minnis still channeling Prime Minister Christie

As a member of the cultural community with aspirations for leading this country, Dr. Minnis’ latest comments on culture do not represent the change he claims to represent, a new vision, or a fresh perspective on national policy. Dr. Minnis usually reacts to Prime Minister Christie, followed by a flip flop, and ends up with him channeling Mr. Christie.

It is clear that Dr. Minnis has no vision for culture or tourism because his initial knee jerk reaction to the debut of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival was to cancel this cultural tourism event should he become Prime Minister. Years later he flip-flopped in classic Minnis fashion, claiming to privatize the event. Well, with a significant reduction in public subvention, it was already clear that the Prime Minister’s mandate to the Bahamas Festival Commission was to gradually privatize the event so at best Minnis is haplessly channeling Prime Minister Christie and the PLP government.

Minnis also promised to increase funding to Junkanoo but the record is clear that funding in support of Junkanoo, as is the case with regattas, is at an all-time high under the Christie administration so again, Minnis is merely reacting to and channeling Mr. Christie.

PRIME MINISTER CHRISTIE CLEARLY ARTICULATES HIS VISION FOR THE BAHAMAS AND DOES NOT NEED MINNIS AS AN ECHO.

When Dr. Minnis recently built up the courage to speak to the media about the FNM’s plans for national energy sector reform, he talked about renewable energy. The only problem is, the National Energy Policy was released several years ago on the eve of the United Nation’s General Assembly on Climate Change. Further, the PLP government has tabled legislation to amend the Electricity Act, allowing for the grid tie-in of self- generated power from solar energy. Additionally, the island challenge project being led by the Carbon War Room is in the advanced stages of implementation with pilot projects scheduled for a number of Family Islands.

With literally months to go before a general election, Dr. Minnis continues to struggle in finding his leadership footing in articulating policies that support this new direction he keeps talking about. Repeating what the PLP government has done or is doing falls woefully short of the mark as Minnis’ capacity consistently fails to match his unbridled ambition.

In a parting shot, Dr. Minnis’ chairman should be ashamed of himself for attacking the work of civil servants in the Department of Statistics. Having left the Bahamian economy in a wheel chair in May of 2012, Mr. Collie should be happy for Bahamians who secured gainful employment with the more than 31,700 jobs added to the economy since May 2012. While the PLP is happy for those thousands who secured employment, we know that there is much more work to be done on behalf of the Bahamian people.

Baha Mar Sold

PM ChristieCOMMUNICATION BY
THE RT. HON. PERRY G. CHRISTIE, M.P.
PRIME MINISTER & MINISTER OF FINANCE
ON THE ACQUISITION OF THE BAHA MAR RESORT
BY CTF BM HOLDINGS LTD.
(A SUBSIDIARY OF CHOW TAI FOOK ENTERPRISES LTD)
MONDAY, 12TH DECEMBER, 2016

Mr. Speaker,

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Baha Mar Resort is being sold to a world-class hotel owner, property developer, and business conglomerate, CTF BM Holdings Ltd. (a subsidiary of the Hong Kong conglomerate – Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd.).

The executed Sale and Purchase Agreement represents a significant achievement for The Bahamas, and a milestone in the troubled history of the Baha Mar Resort.

I take this opportunity to unfold, in a chronological order, the steps my Government has taken to reach this successful outcome; beginning with the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing, the negotiations, the Court interventions, the Bidding process, and culminating with an overview of the Purchaser, CTF, and its vision for the Baha Mar Resort. To put this agreement in context and to appreciate its immense importance to the people of The Bahamas and our national economy, it is helpful to consider the scope and review the recent history of the Baha Mar Project.

BACKGROUND & NEGOTIATIONS

Mr. Speaker,

Baha Mar is an enormous development and once complete, will be among the largest destination resorts in the Caribbean, employing thousands of Bahamians. The Project is comprised of four new hotels in addition to the existing Melia hotel, boasting more than 3,000 guest rooms, a new 95,000 square foot casino, a new 200,000 square foot convention centre, 60,000 square feet of retail space, a new 18-hole [Jack Nicklaus] golf course, a racquet club.

The Resort was first scheduled to open in December 2014, then postponed to March 2015. Both dates were missed, and although construction was more than 95% complete, disputes with the Developer, Mr. Sarkis Izmirlian led China Construction America to stop work, and the Export-Import Bank of China to halt lending.

Mr. Speaker,

On 29 June 2015, the Baha Mar group of companies suddenly and unexpectedly filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Delaware, without the knowledge of the Government and people of The Bahamas.

Subsequently, the Baha Mar group of Companies applied to the Supreme Court of The Bahamas to have the Bahamian courts recognize the Chapter 11 proceedings and give effect to them in The Bahamas; an application that the Government opposed. This application was heard on 20th July, 2015 by the Honourable Ian Winder who, on the 22nd July, 2015 in an oral ruling refused to grant recognition to the Chapter 11 proceedings and later dismissed the summons.

Mr. Speaker,

We were advised by our US and UK lawyers that the Chapter 11 proceedings in Delaware offered no realistic prospect for a successful reorganization of Baha Mar. Those proceedings did however place Baha Mar, a Bahamian resort, owned by Bahamian Companies and indebted to thousands of Bahamian creditors subject to the supervision of the Court in Delaware. To soften the impact of Baha Mar’s insolvency on its Bahamian employees, the Government, for the first few weeks following the bankruptcy filing applied amounts owed to Baha Mar to meet its unpaid payroll obligations.

Baha Mar’s insolvency led to lay-offs of more than 2,000 employees, cancellation of hundreds of advance room reservations, enormous revenue losses, and downgrading of the sovereign debt of The Bahamas.

Day and night, assisted by a dedicated team inclusive of our US and UK lawyers, I drove the effort to find a solution to this disquieting situation. We engaged in marathon negotiations with all relevant parties on the terms of a global settlement; and assiduously moved negotiations forward. In addition to countless hours of conference calls, by invitation the Bahamian Government participants travelled to Beijing three times, and the Bank and CCA officers travelled to Nassau twice, all in an effort to resolve all issues between Mr. Izmirlian, The Export-Import Bank of China, and China Construction America – but to no avail. Throughout the negotiations, we have first and foremost been mindful of the impact that this stalled development has had on our people and our country.

Mr. Speaker,

Following failed negotiations, on 16th July, 2015, the Honourable Attorney General filed a petition for the winding-up of the Baha Mar group of Companies and applied for the appointment of Joint Provisional Liquidators. The Supreme Court agreed that there was no justification for subordinating Bahamian insolvency proceedings to be under the jurisdiction of the court of Delaware or for compelling thousands of Bahamian creditors to participate in such bankruptcy proceedings.

In October 2015, the Export-Import Bank of China, as secured creditor, exercised its right under the Debenture, and appointed Joint Receiver Managers to take control of Baha Mar’s properties.

REMOBILISATION NEGOTIATIONS

Mr. Speaker,

At that time that the Chapter 11 was filed, tens of millions of dollars were owed to the Bahamian creditors. The Government’s Bahamian, UK and U.S. expert advisors warned that as a result of Baha Mar’s Chapter 11 filings and the evidence filed therein, Bahamian creditors had little or no prospect of being paid any sums owed to them.

Amidst the complex and arduous negotiations, my Government and I remained focused on achieving three (3) main objectives:

(i) Firstly, ensuring immediate remobilization and resumption of

construction, based on committed funding sufficient to complete construction and to open all parts of the Project;

(ii) Secondly, the opening of the Casino, Casino Hotel, Convention Centre, Convention Hotel and Golf Course prior to the end of the 2016-2017winter season;

(iii) And thirdly, settlement and/or payment of all valid claims of contractors and subcontractors, suppliers, and employees and other Baha Mar and CCA creditors.

These objectives were embedded in the Heads of Terms date 22 August, 2016 between the Government, the Export-Import Bank of China, Perfect Luck Claims Limited, and Perfect Luck Assets Limited, and remained the overarching priorities of the Government. We are pleased to have achieved all of the overlying objectives through the valiant efforts of my colleagues and members of staff. The casino and casino hotel, the convention centre and the golf course are on track to open before the end of the 2016-2017 winter season.

Entrenched in the Heads of Terms, the Bank committed to fund all remaining construction costs to complete the Project and inject $101.5 million towards payment of employees and unsecured creditors. This sum represents an ex-gratia payment made by Exim Bank to the unsecured creditors to accommodate the request of the Government. Hundreds of former Bahamian employees of Baha Mar have received the outstanding amounts due to them: unpaid salaries, severance pay, accrued vacation pay, and notice payments due to termination. Sums deducted from employees and former employees’ salaries and pension contributions are also being paid. Other Bahamian creditors and contractors have been receiving a significant part, and in some cases, all of the value of their claims.

Mr. Speaker,

A Claims Committee, chaired by His Excellency James Smith have made various announcements and continue to make payments to all valid claims of contractors and subcontractors, suppliers, and employees and other Baha Mar creditors. I am told that arrangements, including payment, have been concluded with almost 90% of the unsecured creditors.

Additionally, the Government of The Bahamas and the Bahamian utility companies, such as Bahamas Power & Light, have received payment from Exim Bank for some of their unsecured outstanding claims against the Baha Mar Companies.

Remobilization is underway and many of the same people and companies who were previously contracted can expect to be or have been re-engaged to complete the Project.

BIDDING PROCESS & BINDING SPA

Mr. Speaker,

The Joint Receiver Managers, with the assistance of Colliers Macaulay Nichols Inc. as their global real estate agent, were charged with pursuing a thorough marketing and sales process designed to identify an optimal purchaser for Baha Mar. We were advised that all of the bids were evaluated and rejected and that as a result Exim Bank subsequently entered into negotiations with other interested parties.

We were subsequently advised by EximBank that after careful consideration, CTF emerged as the best and most qualified buyer.

Mr. Speaker:

Much has been made of the fact that the arrangements remain under Seal in the Supreme Court of The Bahamas. The application to have the documents sealed was made by the Export-Import Bank of China. As I have advised in a previous Communication a request for documents of this nature to remain sealed is not unusual, particularly in transaction of this complexity, scale, and most importantly, international market sensitivity.

The Bahamian Supreme Court approved the sealing of the documents to assist in ensuring that the parties secure the best outcome for the Property.

Mr. Speaker,

A Sale and Purchase Agreement has been executed; however, there still remains outstanding conditions precedent and negotiations between the Bank and CTF for various ancillary agreements. Maintaining all court filed documents under seal enables the Bank and CTF to finalize these sensitive negotiations with the normal business confidences that one would expect.

Mr. Speaker,

I take this opportunity to nullify any suggestions that the Government has provided unusual concessions to conclude this deal. It is not unique to The Bahamas to provide concessions to attract and encourage investment; and it is not unique to this Project, that concessions will be provided on a proportionate basis to the development. Most Countries offer concessions, trade agreements contemplate concessions, and further, our laws provide for concessions to all qualifying investors. The previous Government also granted concessions to investors, including Baha Mar.

Mr. Speaker,

To reiterate what I have already cited, much of the detailed information surrounding this acquisition remains sealed and I am only able to speak within the confines of the Court Order. I can however disclose that the construction concessions provided to CCA by my Government; are identical to those provided by the former administration.

Further, I can state unequivocally that successive Governments of The Bahamas are constrained and bound by the Heads of Agreements provided with respect to the Atlantis Resort.

It is contemplated that CTF will receive the concessions provided to Baha Mar, as applicable. The Government intends to enter into a Heads of Agreement with CTF to outline all obligations, and concessions provided. It is fair to say that the categories of concessions being considered are not different than those offered by the previous Government (the FNM). This Heads of Agreement the main terms of which have been agreed, will shortly be completed, and will not be shrouded in mystery and speculation, as once executed, it will be tabled in this House, to ensure transparency and accountability.

Mr. Speaker,

I seize this opportunity to make all Bahamians aware that my Government is not deaf to the gossip and speculation and downright false allegations that have been concocted surrounding the Baha Mar dispute, its history, and its progress. Amidst such sensitive negotiations, this Government thought it wise not to offer a running commentary on the discussions, and moreover, not to say anything that might put the future of the project in jeopardy. It’s a shame that so many uninformed views were promoted. The last few weeks have involved a herculean effort and everyone involved did what it took to dive across the finish line.

OVERVIEW OF CTF, REMOBILISATION & JOBS/ECONOMIC GROWTH

Mr. Speaker,

CTF is a world-class developer with immense experience in global integrated resort development. CTF’s experience in tourism, hospitality, and real estate development spans across the globe, with subsidiaries managing or owning over 60 hotels worldwide. Some of its most iconic properties include the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel (Los Angeles), The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (New York), Rosewood London (London), and Grand Hyatt (Hong Kong). The Company also operates three resorts in the Caribbean – Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort in Antigua, Rosewood Tucker’s Point in Bermuda, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands (reopening in 2017). Baha Mar will soon join its impressive portfolio of development projects.

Mr. Speaker,

CTF and its operating Companies will have to meet the normal due diligence requirements of the Government, including the rigorous investigation and licensing process of the Gaming Board with respect to its casino operations.

Mr. Speaker,

Through its subsidiary Rosewood, CTF has been involved with Baha Mar since 2011 and knows firsthand the enormous potential of the development. The Bahamas and Baha Mar will enjoy great benefits from CTF’s involvement, particularly due to their expansive network and ability to open new markets of opportunity for The Bahamas. CTF has indicated its commitment to good governance, community outreach, and social responsibility in all of its business operations across the globe.

As a part of the remobilization efforts, CTF is already in place at the project and has been assiduously planning for the phased opening and coordinating matters with Perfect Luck, EXIM Bank, the Government, CCA, hotel operators, ad concessionaires. CTF has already engaged and had discussions with hotel brands involved in Baha Mar including the SLS Lux, Grand Hyatt, and its very own Rosewood to re-engage and bring the development to life. Resultantly, guests will be able to select from five distinctively different hotels, each designed to cater to the specific preferences of travelers seeking a truly luxurious, but uniquely Bahamian island vacation.

Mr. Speaker,

Despite the challenges that this development has endured, construction at the property has commenced once again and Baha Mar is now back on a path for phased opening, beginning in April, 2017 and full completion by next fall.

CTF has begun developing and planning for an extensive marketing plan. CTF has indicated its vision for the Resort as a sophisticated blend of luxury choice in lodging, entertainment, gaming, dining and retail – all while remaining uniquely and authentically Bahamian. To further substantiate its commitment, CTF has committed to invest tens of millions of dollars ahead of the phased opening through pre-opening activities, and employment.

Baha Mar is anticipated to generate approximately 315,000 additional air passenger guests annually to The Bahamas. This is a 19% increase over the total arrivals in 2015. The extensive improvement in conditions at the Lynden Pindling International Airport continues to bolster airline confidence and enthusiasm to facilitate growth of aircraft movements.

In the forthcoming months, imminent economic opportunities will be realized in more and more homes throughout The Bahamas. Baha mar will create an estimated 5,500 to 7,000 jobs for Bahamians. Furthermore Mr. speaker, the economic and fiscal affects will not only be felt by those Bahamians employed but will also benefit a plethora of Bahamian businesses both large and small. Baha mar will undoubtedly add to our tourism product, and significantly impact growth and economic prosperity in our Country.

This is a new day for The Bahamas.

Mr. Speaker,

At the invitation of the Principals of Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd., an in-depth familiarization, verification and planning visit was made to the Hong Kong Headquarters of CTF last week by a Government delegation comprising of The Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe – Minister of Tourism & Minister Responsible for Gaming, The Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Q.C. – Attorney General & Minister of Legal Affairs, Sir Baltron Bethel – Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Prime Minister and senior technical legal gaming and investment officials from the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Gaming Board.

Productive and rigorous exchanges took place with the Chairman of CTF and top executives of the Company’s extensive global enterprises who were assembled in Hong Kong to facilitate the successful outcome of the discussions. The Chairman Dr. Henry Cheng and top management expressed their commitment to a long term and cooperative relationship with the Government and people of The Bahamas, and to achieving a similar level of economic success that has made the family business one of the largest, diversified business conglomerates in Hong Kong, with strong emphasis on integrity and international best practices.

In discussing the Company’s extensive businesses and marketing plans, CTF laid emphasis on the creation of a world class product which would embrace top international and local entertainment, local art, culture, utilization of Bahamian products, training and education, encourage local entrepreneurship and establish a high-end shopping mecca. The Company emphasized it will offer cutting edge gaming, meet the highest standards of probity and operations as practiced in The Bahamas and other leading gaming jurisdictions.

Mr. Speaker,

CTF confirmed to the Bahamian delegation, its commitment for opening and expanding new markets out of North and South America, Asia and Europe, and to working cooperatively with the Ministry of Tourism, the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, and N.A.D. (the Lynden Pindling International Airport) in supporting additional airlift and an aggressive marketing campaign.

The delegation reported to me that CTF has demonstrated to the delegation their track record as excellent owners and operators of convention centres operating the largest and most successful exhibition and convention centre in Asia, located in Hong Kong. Their meetings and conventions business in which The Bahamas has lost share, will be a central
feature of the new Baha Mar project operated by the Grand Hyatt, internationally recognized as the leader in attracting group business.

Mr. Speaker,

CTF’s future expansion calls for the creation of new attractions, the replacement of the Crystal Palace Hotel pod with a compelling new facility and to turn their offshore Island into a themed attraction. The developer further confirmed to the delegation that it will roll out a sustained local and international communications and public relations programme, highlighting both their bold new plans for The Bahamas as well as their global business enterprises. They will embrace the synergy to be achieved between their upscale customers in their multiple businesses, and their Bahamian resort project.

Mr. Speaker,

It was further gratifying during the delegation’s meetings with other leading international business investors in Hong Kong who are well known to my Government, to receive complimentary endorsements of CTF as the investor and operator of the mega Baha Mar project.

Mr. Speaker,

This outcome has arrived at under my continuous personal direction, and the efforts of my colleagues and members of staff who have work tirelessly, across time zones and language barriers. We have had the support of a competent team of legal and financial advisors in The Bahamas, Washington, and London. The Export-Import Bank of China has been involved every step of the way and we a grateful for the efforts made by all parties to fulfill the terms of our agreements for the remobilization and sale of the Baha Mar Resort.

Baha Mar is on track to realize its potential as a premier destination resort, a major employer, and an important contributor to the entire Bahamian economy. This outcome is good for The Bahamas, and great for the Bahamian people.

God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Minnis Recall Further Evidence That Democracy Is Messy

Bradley RobertsSTATEMENT
BY
BRADLEY B. ROBERTS
NATIONAL CHAIRMAN
PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY
7TH DECEMBER 2016

MINNIS RECALL IS FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT DEMOCRACY IS MESSY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The recall of Dr. Minnis under Article 82 of the Constitution as Opposition Leader is further evidence that democracy is not a neat phenomenon – in fact democracy has the capacity to be quite messy at times.

This phenomenon called democracy is a numbers game driven purely by confidence and often times the motivation and intent of the players matter little in the way it manifests itself. Clearly Dr. Minnis does not command the confidence of his inner circle of leaders – the FNM parliamentary that he leads. If he cannot command the confidence of his colleagues, it is virtually impossible for him to command the confidence of a nation and in a nutshell that is the fundamental dilemma he finds himself in.

We will watch and see how Dr. Minnis negotiates himself out of this political ambush and by all accounts his latest ‘baptism by fire.’ He is a relative political neophyte who was thrust into a position of great consequence and he must find his way and his political bearings if he is to survive. He is not seen as a strong, charismatic or inspirational leader within his party and generally.

Since power concedes nothing without a demand, the coming days and weeks will be quite interesting for him, the FNM, the composition of the Lower House and the impact of these events on the unforgiving and dynamic political landscape of The Bahamas.

It is worthy of note that the ones who stabbed Caesar to gain power; were forgotten in history. Time has never been kind to the coup makers.

Can Bahamians Trust Dr. Hubert Minnis?

bradley_roberts_t180STATEMENT
BY
BRADLEY B. ROBERTS
NATIONAL CHAIRMAN
PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY

5th DECEMBER 2016

CAN BAHAMIANS TRUST DR. HUBERT MINNIS?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

By all accounts, the honourable member for South Abaco, Edison Key is a straight shooter; he is a no nonsense politician and was one of Dr. Hubert Minnis’ trusted and ardent supporters. When the sharp knives, fiery darts and arrows took aim at Minnis from within the FNM to remove him as leader, Edison Key stood firmly by Minnis’ side, always standing on a point of principle.

Dr. Minnis apparently rewarded Mr. Key’s honour, principled position, political support and unwavering loyalty by backstabbing, disrespecting and undermining Mr. Key to his constituents in his own constituency. This is unseemly behavior for a leader and should be roundly condemned by all and sundry as it can only deepen the divide and cause further harm to the FNM brand. I am personally offended by Minnis’ dishonorable behavior because I know Mr. Key personally and have worked with him for many years in public life.

AT THE VERY LEAST, MINNIS’ INNER CIRCLE SHOULD TRUST HIM AND HIS WORD. IF THERE IS MISTRUST OF HIM AMONG HIS PARLIAMENTARY COLLEAUGUES, THEN WHY SHOULD BAHAMIANS TRUST DR. MINNIS? HE ALREADY HAS A WELL EARNED NATIONAL REPUTATIUON AS A FLIPFLOPPER AND HIS LATEST ACTIONS ONLY SERVE TO ENTRENCH THIS JAUNDICED AND CYNICAL VIEW OF HIM AND HIS LEADERSHIP.

Minnis has no difficulty with selling his soul to the devil for financial and political expediency. He has aligned himself with Sarkis Izmirlian and parachuted several of Sarkis’ handpicked candidates into the leadership of the FNM in exchange for funding. It is clear that his most ardent critic, serial self-dealer Brent Symonette, will be given Saint Annes in return for financial support. Further, it is apparent that Minnis has kicked new generation leader Theo Neilly to the curbs in favour of Richard Lightbourne in North Eleuthera. With each of these moves, Minnis has managed to alienate segments of his party and support base, fracturing his party further and deepening the mistrust and distrust of his leadership and his word.

As critical as Minnis is of Prime Minister Christie and the PLP, he could learn much from the seamless transition of the PLP candidacies in both the Carmichael and Exuma and Ragged Island constituencies.

Again, if Minnis’ colleagues who form the inner circle of his parliamentary caucus do not trust him or his word, then why should Bahamians repose their trust in him?

PLP Disappointed in FNM Crime Spokesman

Bradley RobertsPress Statement
By
Bradley B Roberts

National Chair Progressive Liberal

4th December 2016

PLP very disappointed in FNM spokesman on crime, Marvin Dames

Clearly Marvin Dames the parachuted FNM candidate has emerged as the opposition spokesperson on crime when one reviews the various statements he has made about crime.

BUT WHAT HAVE WE HEARD? TO DATE, WE HAVE NOT HEARD ONE NEW IDEA, NO NOT ONE. IN FACT, HIS SO CALLED RECOMMENDATIONS ARE EITHER ALREADY EXISTING GOVERNMENT POLICY AND SETTLED LAW OR ARE MERE REITITIONS OF INITIATIVES PRONOUNCED BY POLICE COMMISSIONER GREENSLADE IN THE POLICE FORCE’S ANTI-CRIME PLAN.

Mr. Dame’s leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis, is prancing up and down in the media complaining about how the government needs to produce a crime plan and lamenting about how the government is not serious about crime. On the eve of the 2017 general election, Dr. Minnis now has his “in house crime expert” to deliver the plan he keeps complaining about and the best Minnis’ ‘in house crime expert’ could muster is to repeat the anti-crime policies of the PLP government and the crime plan of his former colleague who beat him out for the top job at the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE THOUGHT MINNIS COULD DO BETTER THAN THIS.

Instead of rolling up his sleeves and working with Commissioner Greenslade as the consummate goal oriented team player and public servant, Dames left the police force in a huff for more money in the private sector only to return to offer nothing to the national dialogue on crime. His appointment by Dr. Minnis is a best dubious and questionable.

Perhaps former Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham did in fact make the correct choice in selecting Greenslade over Dames in light of the report received from Canada after their training. This decision was made notwithstanding political partisan pressure and support for Dames which could not overcome the veracity of the Canada assessment.

We also remind all that this was one decision that Ingraham did not rush.

My advice to Dames, Minnis and the FNM is to support the existing anti-crime initiatives in the public interest. Urban Renewal 2.0, the Citizens Security and Justice Program, Sandy Bottom, Swift Justice Initiative, prison reform, the youth tracking system and saturation patrols are just some of the meaningful anti-crime strategies that Dames and the FNM can throw their full public support behind because these initiatives have proven beneficial in building a safer Bahamas.

In closing I invite Mr. Dames to join me in a public show of bipartisanship and political maturity in calling for the re-establishment of the National Youth Restorative Program in partnership with Y.E.A.S.T. and the Roman Catholic Church. This too is yet another program that will prove to be beneficial in building a safer Bahamas.

Dorsett Glad to Have Participated in Black Friday March

Dorsett OfficialSTATEMENT BY THE HON. KENRED DORSETT
MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND HOUSING

IN RESPONSE TO THE BLACK FRIDAY MARCH

28th NOVEMBER 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

I made the decision last week to participate in the Black Friday march, as members of Government were invited to attend. I did so because I have deep love for our beautiful country and respect for the democratic right for free speech. I saw it as an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about our future.

I am glad to have attended and to have heard the voices of Bahamians. To speak with so many of you reinforced my belief in open discourse. The peaceful display by Bahamians on Black Friday was truly a testament to the strength of the democracy of our country.

As Minister of Environment and Housing, I am acutely aware of how the decisions we make today affect our tomorrow. Every day, I am focused on collaboratively addressing the challenges facing our country, be it climate change – in which we have a great stake – employment or the economy. My Ministry, through its expansion of marine protected areas, the creation of the Youth Environmental Corp, and the signing of the historical Paris Agreement, to name a select few, has shown its commitment to investing in the future of Bahamians.

Black Friday march event organizers, in their open letter, called for a policy to facilitate the use of renewable energy. I remind them that this has been done. The National Energy Policy speaks to our goal of a minimum of 30% renewable energy penetration in our energy matrix by 2033, and we have begun the national dialogue on the matter. The Government has also amended the Electricity Act to allow for renewable energy generating systems and interconnection to the grid as well as established the regulator for the electricity sector- the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA).

The Residential Energy Self Generation (RESG) programme that will allow homes and businesses to use solar generating systems to connect to the grid under a net billing framework with BPL is currently before URCA for its review and finalization. We have been, and continue to be, committed to policies that deliver positive change.

The Government is working tirelessly every day for a stronger Bahamas. The National Development Plan, the National Youth policy, the Shared Vision for Education 2030 – these are all initiatives focused on building a modern and prosperous Bahamas.

I must express my great disappointment with the event organizers for turning down the invitation from the Prime Minister for a sit down meeting. Their arrogance lost them the opportunity to have a purposeful, productive exchange about the issues raised. That was a mistake.

I believe that the only way to address the challenges facing our country is to do so together and by staying open to talking to each other. Divisive politics and rhetoric are not conducive to a stronger Bahamas. I ask that we all come together as one and build The Bahamas we wish to see for our children.

Fitzgerald: I Am An Advocate of the Freedom Of Information Act

jerome_fitzgerald_t180Press Release

Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, M.P.
Minister of Education Science and Technology

November 27th, 2016

As many of you know, an invitation was extended to members of the Government by the organizers to attend the march on Friday past and while the acceptance of this invitation was met with accusation of event hijacking by the organizers and the subsequent directive to the attendees to turn their backs on us, my individual decision to participate was based on my love and commitment for our great country.

Like all Bahamians, I want a better and stronger Bahamas. This is why I have been committed to public service through front line politics for the past 9 ½ years – to advocate for Bahamians at large, and bring about change for a modern and prosperous nation, where we as a people make the effort to work together on nation-building and collaboratively address the challenges facing our country.

At Arawak Cay prior to the march I had the opportunity to speak with many in attendance. I learned that some persons gathered there because they were dissatisfied with the Government, some because they do not believe the Opposition party is a credible voice to represent their interests and others because they simply wanted to be part of the event. But most of all however, I spoke with people who above anything else, just wanted to put the politics aside and focus on improving our country.
This march was reflective of what the majority of Bahamians want for The Bahamas, which is nation building through a healthy exchange of ideas; a willingness to collaborate to improve our quality of life; communication; and listening to the Bahamian people.

I know this because the past 4 ½ years the Government has placed a priority on consultations, face to face interactions, and social media. Unfortunately however, the majority is often drowned out by the louder minority who has a purely political agenda.

The National Development Plan, The Shared Vision for Education 2030, The National Energy Plan and the National Youth Policy among others should not be perceived as PLP initiatives as they have not been derived in isolation but have incorporated collaboration from a wide cross section of stakeholders inclusive of politicians and civil society. We will not win until we are united in a shared goal of building a better Bahamas. This is the genesis of The National Development Plan!
Persons have expressed that the Government must be accountable. I agree. I have said previously that before the end of this year I will be tabling Freedom of Information legislation. I am an advocate for the Freedom of Information Act and the government supports it.

As much as I was proud to acknowledge that this peaceful march was really reflective of a strong democracy at work, I was disappointed that after our Prime Minister took the time to write a thoughtful and detailed response within 2 days to the organizers outlining how many of their concerns have either been addressed or being addressed and inviting them to meet with him to discuss how we can work together on the issues raised, his invitation was flatly and disrespectfully rejected. In doing so, the organizers in a fit of hubris have squandered an opportunity many of those who marched and supported them wished they would have seized instead of issuing threats to hold the country hostage.

Despite what can be perceived as short-sightedness of the organizers, the peaceful display by Bahamians reflects the best of The Bahamas and how the majority of us are invested in making meaningful change. I am glad I took the opportunity to attend and speak with my brothers and sisters and want to assure all Bahamians that we in Government are working hard to enact the change you want to see in the country.

I continue to encourage Bahamians to share their opinions; don’t lose the passion you have for this great country, and above all, don’t let politics and those with a political agenda blind you. We are all in this together and we all have a role to play if The Bahamas is to truly maximize its potential.

The Government doesn’t have all the answers and we most certainly can’t solve every problem. At the end of the day the rate and success of the change we desire as a nation will be dictated by the rate and pace of our change individually and collectively as a people.

Roberts Thanks We March Organizers, Urges Meeting

24d076d4-7770-47b6-9c00-7bdb6ed3384cFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
27th November 2016

PLP urges Black Friday organizers to meet with Prime Minister

Bradley B. Roberts
National Chairman
Progressive Liberal Party

Earlier this afternoon I was asked by a member of the Press to comment on the march this past Friday, my response was that I had no comment as I was confuse over the conflicting messages that were been sent; no politicians were to participate etc. but notwithstanding wish to comment:

On behalf of the PLP, I thank the organizers for their letter to the government, for exercising their democratic rights and freedom of expression and in so doing, present a further opportunity for constructive engagement and honest dialogue with the government on its going programs, policy initiatives and legislative agenda.

I urge the organizers to meet with Prime Minister Christie to discuss these issues in great detail in the interest of democracy.

I am confident that their expressed concerns have either been addressed by the Christie administration, are being addressed in the form of pending legislation or are being addressed via the National Development Plan (NDP). I urge the organizers to actively participate in the National Development Plan that is a blueprint for the country’s path to sustainable development over the next twenty-five years.

Access to affordable and quality Healthcare; education reform with the bipartisan VISION 2030; and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are in the advance stages of development and execution. As for Value Added Tax, the record clearly shows that to date the Christie government has significantly reduced the budget deficit from the more than $500 million the government was forced to borrow in 2012 based on the fiscal state of affairs it inherited from the FNM. The Christie government has steadily reduced that level of borrowing and Value Added Tax has contributed significantly to this achievement.

These are just some of the reasons why an open and honest dialogue between the government and the organizers is so important; it will clarify much of the misinformation in the public domain.

CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT IN GOOD FAITH IS THE ONLY RATIONAL WAY FORWARD FOR THE ORGANIZERS IF THEY ARE SERIOUS AND SINCERE!

The organizers are calling for change and reform; the policies of the Christie administration represent the kind of change and reform the organizers and their supporters are apparently calling for and the PLP calls for open, frank and honest dialogue as it is good for the democratic process.

PLEASE DO NOT DISAPPOINT THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE BY EXPOSING YOURSELVES TO BE A BUNCH OF REBELS WITHOUT A CAUSE. THIS COUNTRY DESERVES BETTER.