"The People's Station"


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    Commonwealth Bank today released a very positive earnings report declaring $44 million in profits for the nine months to September 30 2015 with Total Assets exceeding $1.5 billion.

    “This positive third quarter earnings report reflects an increase of 12.2% or $4.8 million above the $39.2 million in profits for the same period last year,” said President Ian Jennings. “But more importantly, these results demonstrate that our steadfast conservative approach to lending combined with vigilant oversight of operating expenses continues to serve our more than 6,000 shareholders well, in addition to the community as a whole. ”Jennings credited dedicated staff, controlled credit risk and prudent operating practices with helping the bank report these results. However, he added serious economic challenges persist.

    “Continuing high unemployment coupled with increasing costs including the introduction of VAT and a substantial $5 million hike in business license fees last year plus expenses related to loan impairment are challenges we have to overcome as we search for new and innovative ways to do things that were a lot easier to do a decade ago,” said Jennings.

    “Notwithstanding those economic challenges, our total revenue increased 8% or $8.4 million over 2014,” said Jennings. “We are cautiously optimistic over the remainder of 2015 as we do see encouraging signs within the bank as our nonperforming loan ratio of 4.09% continues to significantly outperform the industry average of 14.84% at September 2015, as reported by The Central Bank of The Bahamas. The Bank also maintains strong capital and liquidity ratios with capital adequacy in excess of 27% and liquidity ratio above 34%. These ratios are well in excess of Central Bank’s requirements of 17% and 20%, respectively making Commonwealth Bank both financially strong and stable.”

    With branches in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco, Commonwealth Bank has 10 branches, five of them with Saturday banking, numerous off-site ABMs for 24-hour banking and employs more than 500 persons. Since going public in the year 2000, the bank has not missed paying a quarterly dividend and has paid an additional extraordinary dividend in most years. The Bank’s commitment to community, marked by its extensive support in donations to education at every level, this year reached an all-time high with the announcement of an historic $500,000 pledge over 10 years to the Cancer Society of The Bahamas.




    The Free National Movement today welcomed Architect and businessman Herbert Collins to the Free National Movement. Mr. Collins, an Androsian by birth received his early education at North Andros High before attending Miami Lakes Technical Institute graduating with an honors degree in Architectural Science. Mr. Collins is also a construction professional with over thirty years’ experience in the building and construction industry. Inclusively, he spent nearly twenty years at Alexiou and Associates where he and a team of architects participated in and won nationwide design competitions between local and international firms. Throughout his career he has provided architectural and construction services to a wide range of large commercial projects and high end residences, which have shaped the landscape of New Providence. He is presently employed as an architectural consultant at Bakers Bay & Golf Club in Abaco.

    In accepting his membership Mr. Collins remarked, “For too long the needs of my fellow Bahamians have been neglected.” He added, “My desire is to lend my expertise to The Free National Movement in their efforts to empower Bahamians by restoring in them hope and replacing despair with pride is a priority of mine.”

    In welcoming Mr. Herbert Collins to membership in the Free National Movement, Candidates Selection and Investigative Committee Chairman and former ambassador Cornelius A. Smith expressed his satisfaction in the quantity and quality of Bahamians who are being attracted to the FNM under the leadership of Dr. Hubert Minnis.




    On Friday, November 20, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Lisa Johnson met with the College of The Bahamas (COB) President Dr. Rodney Smith. The meeting served as an opportunity to thank President Smith for the College’s strong partnership with the Embassy, to discuss the Embassy’s educational programs that operate in The Bahamas, and to reaffirm the Embassy’s commitment to the American Corner by signing the American Corner Memorandum of Understanding.

    Chargé Johnson thanked President Smith for the great support of the American Corner, expressing her hope that the Embassy and COB can make a tradition of renewing the commitment with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing each year during International Education Week. During the meeting, the topics of discussion included the Embassy’s Education USA office, an advising center that promotes U.S. higher education and President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative, which seeks to increase educational exchange between the United States and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000 exchanges in each direction by 2020. The two also discussed the U.S. Fulbright Specialist and U.S. Fulbright Scholar programs.

    U.S. Embassy Nassau opened its first American Corner in The Bahamas at COB in July 2013. American Corner Nassau is a resource center that provides information about the United States, conducts educational and cultural programs, and promotes interaction with alumni of U.S. universities and U.S. government exchange programs.

    Photo Caption: L-R: Peter Mitchell, Interim Director/Development Office, COB; Chanelle Clare, Education & Cultural Specialist, U.S. Embassy, Neda Brown, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy; Lisa Johnson, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires a.i. U.S. Embassy; Dr. Rodney Smith, President COB; Dr. Berthamae Walker, Librarian, COB; Davinia Blair, VP Advancement/Interim, COB and Dorna Moxey, American Corner Administrator. Missing from the photo Ms. Elsie Bain, Deputy Librarian, COB. (Photo courtesy of COB).




    Rowena Bethel, Director and Chief Executive Officer of The National Insurance Board (at podium) was Guest Speaker at The Bahamas Press Club black-tie ‘Pioneer Awards’ ceremonies to honour pioneers and legends in Journalism and Mass Communications on Saturday, November 21, 2015 at the British Colonial Hilton. Awards were given to: Eileen Dupuch Carron, publisher and editor of The Tribune, for Lifetime Achievement; Wendall Jones, chairman and CEO of Jones Communications Network; Anthony Ferguson for Guardian Talk Radio; the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas; Henry Saunders, MORE 94FM; Silbert Mills for Abaco Radio; and the late Kenneth “Six” Francis, publisher and general manager of the Nassau Guardian. Pictured looking on are, from left, Barbara Newbold; Anthony A. Newbold, president, The Bahamas Press Club; Eileen Dupuch Carron; and Ed Fields, PR specialist and Master of Ceremonies. In second photo, Minister of Tourism, responsible for Bahamas Information Services -- and himself a former journalist, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe chats with Mrs. Carron during the festivities. (BIS Photos/Derek Smith)




    Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said the thriving economy of Bimini is set for another boost with the signing of the Supplemental Heads of Agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and Resorts World and its partners. “Resorts World entities and BB Entertainment have revised their business plan from an investment of $150 million in the resort project to now $600 million,” Prime Minister Christie said during the signing of the Supplemental Heads of Agreement at his office, Friday, November 20, 2015. BB Entertainment is a joint venture partnership between Genting (USA) Ltd., a subsidiary of Resorts World and leading Florida builder and real estate developer, Gerardo Capo’s Company, RAV Bahamas Ltd.

    The Prime Minister explained that some of the main components within the supplemental agreement comprise the following:

    · Firstly, a new luxury Hilton branded 300-room hotel now nearing completion. Some 200 rooms have been activated and work towards completion of the lobby, an additional 100 rooms, and connections with the casino are soon to be completed.

    · Secondly, the airport expansion and other infrastructural and community works, including a new water taxi ferry station; preparation by the international planning firm EDSA in collaboration with relevant government agencies and local shareholders of a master plan for north and south Bimini; paving of King’s Highway and the government dock; the enhancement of the fountain of youth; the acquisition of local fishing boats; as well as various economic, social, cultural and educational community projects.

    · Thirdly, the construction of a deep-water jetty facility capable of accommodating the Bimini Superfast Cruise ship Ferry and other cruise ships.

    · Fourth, construction of employee housing comprising 448 units.

    Prime Minister Christie also explained that under the Supplemental Heads of Agreement, the Government has granted the developer the following options on terms to be mutually agreed with the Government:

    · Lengthening of the Bimini airport and runway to 9,000 feet and further upgrade the terminal and flight facilities.

    · Development and construction of a water taxi terminal on the lagoon side of the airport.

    · Development and construction of an additional hotel with a minimum of 200 rooms.

    · Construction of a laundry facility for amphibian aircraft near the resort development and a resort heliport for use in cases of emergency at the resort.

    “The Government and the developers have also agreed to undertake the resurfacing of additional roads in Bimini and to increase infrastructural expenditure from $10 million to $15 million with the developer making the initial capital outlay to be repaid in deductions from casino fees,” Prime Minister Christie said.

    “In conformity with the master plan to guide the orderly growth and development of Bimini, the Government and the developers have agreed to the construction of housing for employees and residents as part of a planned community on terms and conditions to be mutually agreed.

    He noted that at present, 525 Bahamians are employed at the resort on a permanent basis. By the end of this year when the new hotel is fully completed, an additional 100 Bahamians workers will be employed on a permanent basis.

    The Prime Minister added that some 200 construction workers have been employed during phases and it is anticipated that between 50 and 60 additional construction workers will be employed in the coming weeks.

    “In the area of training, Resorts World entities are implementing multi-disciplinary training on the job technical skills training and there is tremendous emphasis on that to ensure that the facilities are matched with service.

    “They will also offer apprenticeship programmes both at the Miami Hilton and other Resort World properties to equip its Bahamian employees inclusive of managerial personnel with the level of technical preparation to meet world class standards.”

    Also in attendance at the signing were Minister of Tourism the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; Minister of State for Finance the Hon. Michael Halkitis; Minister of State for Investments the Hon. Khaalis Rolle; Secretary to the Cabinet, Wendell Major; Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Creswell Sturrup; and Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, Sir Baltron Bethel.

    President, Resorts World Bimini, Ed Farrell, and CEO, RAV Bahamas, Gerardo Capo were also in attendance.

    Photo Captions:

    Secretary to the Cabinet, Wendell Major signs Supplemental Heads of Agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and Resorts World and its partners at the Office of The Prime Minister, Friday, November 20, 2015. The Minister of Tourism the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe (right), and the Minister of State for Investments the Hon. Khaalis Rolle (left) look on during the signing. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)




    Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling welcomed presidents of Atlantic College and North American University in a courtesy call at Government House, November 19, 2015. Pictured from left: James Schaefer; President of Atlantic College Dr. R.E. Cooper; H.E. Dame Marguerite Pindling; President of North American University Dr. Reg Pecen; and Rev. Susan Pratt. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)




    One hundred and sixteen cataract patients will be the beneficiaries of surgical intervention to restore eyesight thanks to the Second Bright Journey Project, a collaborative effort between the Governments of The Bahamas and the People’s Republic of China. The two countries, today, signed a Memorandum of Understanding that would assist in restoring the sight of 116 patients who suffer from the effects of cataracts.

    The Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez, Minister of Health, said: “My desire for the Bright Journey to become a template for future collaborative efforts between The Bahamas and the People’s Republic of China has been realized where the expertise and resources of nations and regions can be brought to bear across borders to improve the lives and health of ordinary citizens.” Bahamian and Chinese health professionals will perform the surgeries at the Rand Memorial Hospital (RMH) in Freeport, Grand Bahama, from November 25th to December 5th, 2015.

    The patients would be from Grand Bahama, Abaco, Bimini, and the Berry Islands. The team comprises health care professionals and support personnel with specialties in ophthalmology from Princess Margaret Hospital and Peking University First Hospital in Beijing. The programme will be coordinated by Dr. Paul Ward, Medical Chief of Staff at RMH. In 2014 the surgical team performed 101 cataract surgeries during a similar exercise, which was conducted at the Princess Margaret Hospital. Minister Gomez said, “the exercise was described as being very successful as it improved the quality of the lives of many individuals from New Providence and the Family Islands who would otherwise not have been in a financial position to afford such cataract surgeries.”

    On completion of the project the Rand Memorial Hospital will be the benefactor of the gift of approximately $155,000 in equipment, instruments, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. The Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, Minister for Grand Bahama, explained that the project was presented by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, during a Heads of State meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in 2013.

    Dr. Darville said, “the President had a vision, which encompassed the assistance of those in the Caribbean who had cataract deficiencies; and he pledged to see this vision actualized by sending 100 medical professionals to the region to help treat those persons that were in need. As the health and well-being of Bahamians is of paramount importance to this administration, this pledge was accepted by Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, and led the way for the beginning of a new partnership within the healthcare systems of our countries.” Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Yuan Guisen said the agreement is a continuation of the “friendly cooperation” between The Bahamas and China in the field of health.

    The agreement was signed at the Ministry of Health, Meeting Street. Among those present were: Marco Rolle, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health; Herbert Brown, Managing Director of The Public Hospitals Authority; Sharon Williams, Hospital Administrator; management and staff of the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority.

    PHOTO CAPTIONS Pictured during the signing are Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez, centre; Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Yuan Guisen, centre right; Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, centre left; and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health Marco Rolle, left. (BIS Photos/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.)




    Minister of Social Services and Community Development the Hon. Melanie Griffin announced that the theme for this year’s National Women’s Week is “Women and the Environment: Creating Partnerships for Sustainable Development.” During a press conference at her office on Thursday, November 19, Minister Griffin said, “This is a very timely topic, as countries around the world, including The Bahamas, are focusing on the issues of climate change, conservation and other environmental factors that can adversely affect sustainability for present and future generations. “It is no secret that how we treat the environment today, will determine the quality of life we will experience tomorrow. Therefore, we all have an important role to play in strengthening and nurturing efforts to maintain a healthy environment.”

    National Women’s Week, which is organised each year by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, will be observed from Sunday, November 22 to Saturday, November 28, 2015. The Minister explained that during the week, focus will be given to the roles that women play in managing various aspects of the environment, including agriculture, and women whose careers are centred in or around the environment will be highlighted.

    “We will pre-launch the week with the opening of our Exhibition on the environment in the foyer of the Ministry of Education Headquarters, Thompson Boulevard.” To officially launch the week, women and the general public are invited to worship at St. Mark’s Native Baptist Church, located on Romer Street in Fox Hill, Sunday, November 22, at 11:00a.m.

    On Monday, November 23, a Panel Discussion on Women and the Environment will be held at the Hearing Room, Department of Physical Planning, John F. Kennedy Drive and Bethel Avenue. Panelists include: representatives from the Bahamas National Trust, The Bahamas Reef, Environment and Educational Foundation and The College of The Bahamas. On Tuesday, November 24, a Webinar on “Adaptation to Climate Change” will be held from 1:30p.m. to 2:30p.m.

    Minister Griffin also noted that two special observances also fall within National Women’s Week. The first is the International Day to end violence against Women on Wednesday, November 25. “This United Nations’ observance is an occasion for governments, international organisations and non-governmental organisations to raise public awareness of the prevalence of violence against women and take measures to address this violence. We encourage the public to support this initiative by wearing something orange on that day.”

    The Minister said in commemoration of the International Day to end Violence against Women, a special forum is planned focusing on “Support Systems for Victims of Violence,” to be held in the Hearing Room, Department of Physical Planning, John F. Kennedy Drive and Bethel Avenue.

    To commemorate the day (November 26, 1962) when women in The Bahamas voted for the first time, Minister Griffin said a screening of the video documentary, “Womanish Ways, Freedom, Human Rights and Democracy” by Marion Bethel will be held in the Hearing Room. Other events organised for the week also include a Backyard Farming Workshop for women in Exuma that is being organised by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, the Inter-American Institute of Cooperation on Agriculture, and the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Cooperation; there will also be a Women’s Symposium planned to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

    Photo Caption: Minister of Social Services and Community Development the Hon. Melanie Griffin (seated centre) announces activities for the 2015 National Women’s Week during a press conference at her office, Thursday, November 19, 2015. Also pictured seated are: Acting Permanent Secretary, Alan Strachan and Co-Chair, National Women’s Advisory Council, Marisa Mason-Smith. Standing behind are organisers and supporters of the week of activities. (BIS Photo/Kemuel Stubbs)




    Minister of Social Services and Community Development the Hon. Melanie Griffin (pictured addressing the forum) along with her team held a Press Conference to launch Universal Children’s Day ‘I Gat a Right’ Seminar, Tuesday, November 17, at the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)




    Chairman of Caribbean Arbitrators Richard Demeritte, centre left, along with other board members, paid a courtesy call on Her Excellency the Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling, centre, at Government House on Friday, November 13, 2015. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)






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