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Understanding The Bahamas pivot to China
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 11:44

By: Latrae Rahming/CEO of Chinese consultancy firm Bahamaren

The Christie administration's overall posture toward China has, in fact, evolved considerably over the course of the past couple of years and is now regarded as the "Controversial Pivot". China's economic growth over the past decade has been significant, their economy is now worth $17.6tn, slightly higher than the United States $17.4tn estimated by the International Monetary Fund, exceeding the economy of the United States after 140 years. The Prime Minister trip offers an opportunity to demonstrate The Bahamas commitment and friendship to The People's Republic of China (PRC).

The United States or China? For The Bahamas, that is now the primary strategic question. Focusing on The Bahamas foreign policy between these two countries is a renewed understanding, one represents the future and the other the past. The motivation for the pivot seems clear: the Latin America and Caribbean "center of gravity" is shifting toward China, and The Bahamas needs to respond. This is the only logical reasoning for such geostrategic pivot and a desire for The Bahamas to re-approach China.

From an economic perspective, a shift in focus is completely understandable; nevertheless the political fallout is undetermined. The Prime Minister's trip represents our country maintaining our alliance and economic interests with the People's Republic of China. The overall desire of the government of The Bahamas is a positive relationship with China. There is no country as vital as China to The Bahamas' future economic prosperity. The Bahamas engagement with China offers tremendous opportunities for our country if the relationship is leverage in our best interest. The Bahamas is seeking to expand its relationship with China recognizing that their economy offer significant prospects to secure our future as a leading Caribbean country. The Bahamas enjoys a long history of engagement with China in the areas of education, tourism, and investment. The government is capitalizing on their new Asia pivot for long term economic gain and development.

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Cuba advances in the updating of its economic model
Submitted by Ernesto Soberón Guzmán   
Monday, 05 January 2015 16:28

HAVANA, Cuba --Within the historical context of the return to Cuba of the three anti-terrorists imprisoned in the United States and the announcement of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with this country, the over 600 Cuban legislators concluded four days of analysis and deliberations on the actions of Cuban society in all sectors with the approval of the principal documents governing Cuba’s economy in 2015.

Gathered for the fourth ordinary session of the 8th Legislature, members of the National Assembly of People’s Power voted in favour of the Economic Plan and the State Budget Law for 2015.

The members of the highest authority of state power also approved the Decision presented by the Parliament’s Economic Affairs Commission on the budget legislation; a Statement in support of the declarations of Cuban President Raúl Castro and a message of thanks to all the parliamentarians worldwide who supported the cause of the Five; and an agreement on the occasion of the recent XIII ALBA-TCP Summit, marking its tenth anniversary and in homage to its founders, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz and President Hugo Chávez Frías.

Reporting on the progress of the updating of the Cuban economic model, Politburo member and Vice President of the Council of Ministers, Marino Murillo Jorge, noted that while continuing to gradually advance in the implementation of the strategic vision for the development of the economy, great care must be taken in the implementation of the policies adopted in order to ensure the fulfilment of the objectives for which they are intended.

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Elcott Coleby writes: This week in The Bahamas (29th Dec 2014 – 2nd Jan 2015)
Submitted by Elcott Coleby   
Sunday, 04 January 2015 17:08

THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS
COMMENTARY BY ELCOTT COLEBY

IMMIGRATION DEPT RESPONDS TO WEB DISINFORMATION

In last week’s commentary, I reported on several vessels interdicted in Bahamian waters transporting illegal immigrants, specifically at Barre Tarre Exuma.

Well, in a race against time and with limited resources on this family island, immigration officers transported the migrants from the landing point to the relative safety of an auditorium in Ramsay Exuma, some thirty-five minutes away, before transport to Nassau via a Royal Bahamas Defence Force patrol vessel for further processing. If the 119 migrants were not removed to relative safety before night fall, that would have created additional safety and security risks for both the officers and the migrants.

In the age and culture of social media, someone photographed the transport operations and the photograph of migrants sitting on a detached flatbed trailer with a removable screened metal tailgate later appeared on social media. Immediately the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association issued a press statement, referred to the image in their statement and accusing the Bahamas government of treating illegal migrants like “caged animals” and inhumanely.

The Department of Immigration quickly responded, pointing out that the construction being given to the photo by “those who are seeking to sabotage the policy of the Department is that somehow the migrants were being mistreated and being held in inhumane conditions. That is a false and malicious construction of events. The photo and comments appear designed to defame the Department” said the department in a press statement.

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DNA commentary - VAT: Bad for business, bad for Bahamians!
Submitted by the DNA party   
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 08:34
As 2014 comes to a close, thousands of Bahamians across our archipelago are preparing for the January 1 implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT). Already struggling families must now brace themselves for additional cost of living increases and business owners who had been planning expansions and new hires have opted to shelve those plans as they wait to see what effect the new regime will have on the economy.

In just days, the new tax regime threatens to completely and indefinitely alter the economic landscape of the country, and not for the better. Even worse, in the lead up to the launch of the new tax laws, the government bungled the campaign which had been expected to prepare the public for the widespread changes. Instead, the government has consistently bullied the business community into co-signing this venture, threatening them with heavy fines and jail time for non-compliance; this, even as government officials continue to lead the pack for failure to pay their own taxes.

The January 1 implementation date will also take effect without the existence of a Freedom of Information Act. Given this administration’s propensity for corruption, the enforcement of such legislation is key. In fact, Freedom of Information was one of several recommendations made by the government’s own VAT consultants who highlighted the need for such laws to exist in a VAT environment specifically as a means of making the process as transparent as possible. Still, this crucial piece of legislation, which has already been passed in Parliament, has yet to be enacted by this administration and so far no steps have been taken to facilitate the more than 100 amendments that the government claims is needed to enforce it.
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Statement on Value Added Tax implementation by Deputy FNM Leader and East Grand Bahama MP K. Peter Turnquest
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 04:27
Statement on Value Added Tax Implementation
By K. Peter Turnquest, MP
East Grand Bahama
Deputy Leader of the Free National Movement

After months of denial, it appears that the Government is finally prepared to admit that the Value Added Tax program has been rushed and that it will not be fully prepared for implementation on January 1st, 2015, leaving the general public to question the ability of the Government to effectively manage this significant and important change to the country’s tax structure.

While the Government will force the initiation of this increase in Bahamians cost of living, it is doing so without due consideration to the circumstances of ordinary Bahamian families who are currently suffering from a continued slow economic recovery, where jobs are scarce despite the failed promise of 10,000 new jobs and mortgage arrears continue to rise as many families lose their homes, their most significant lifetime investment. To date, there has been no announcement of any plans for Social Services to address the specific impact that VAT will place on the poor in our country.

The education process and promulgation of VAT Rules has been late, underfunded, and sloppy leaving many questions unanswered and the institution and instruments fundamental to the effective implementation of the regime, yet to be appointed or enacted. Their education campaign spent more time trying to argue why VAT was necessary than it did preparing us for VAT. Every explanation only begged even more questions.

On the eve of the tax, a VAT Comptroller has still not been appointed forcing the Financial Secretary to do double duty as “Acting VAT Comptroller” for an undefined period.  This is unacceptable as the Financial Secretary (a competent individual) is inherently in conflict with his duty and responsibility to the Ministry and Ministers’ of Finance.

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