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U. S. Virgin Islands to host 31st West Indies Agricultural Economics Conference
Submitted by Marthious Clavier   
Thursday, 18 June 2015 07:24

ST. CROIX, U. S. Virgin Islands -- The University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service will host the 31st West Indies Agricultural Economics Conference. Representatives from Caribbean agricultural institutions, agricultural economists, and agriculture policymakers will meet from Sunday, August 9 to Friday, August 14, 2015 at the Buccaneer Hotel on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

With the theme “Mitigating Climate Change Effects to Ensure Food Security,” the group will discuss risk mitigation measures for climate change, novel extension methods for addressing climate change challenges, the economics of new varieties of crops, improved animal breeds, protected agriculture, aquaculture, effects of climate change on farm profitability, price volatility, and threats to Caribbean Food and Nutrition Security.

According to Kwame Garcia, Sr., State Director of the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, it is a pleasure to host this anniversary conference on St. Croix. It will provide an opportunity for scientists, farmers, and policymakers to share ideas and put forth solutions for addressing climate change and its impact on the tropical and subtropical agro-economic landscape.

The week-long activities include an island farm tour and VI National Park tour. Registration fees are as follows: US $300, (US $150 for students). Farm/Island tour: $50.00, National Park tour: $60.00. Conference registration and hotel information are available at http://ces-register.uvi.edu.

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BIA statement on Health Minister's budget speech
Submitted by Media Enterprises/Traffic   
Thursday, 18 June 2015 07:21

The Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) has reviewed the Minister of Health’s contribution to the budget debate and notes with dismay the content of his presentation.

We are disappointed that the minister’s communication reiterates the status quo and does not reflect the collaboration with the private sector promised by the prime minister in his recent budget address.

We wish to put on record that Health Minister Perry Gomez is totally disingenuous in suggesting there has been "real consultation" with the private sector. The BIA has addressed this issue on prior occasions and will not restate the obvious - based on the prime minister’s recent undertaking to rectify the issue.

The much anticipated presentation by Dr Gomez was more of the “same old”, and lacked any new information aimed at addressing the anxiety of key stakeholders regarding the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) programme. His contribution was totally lacking in substance and contained no new specifics.

The speech did little to address the concerns of the BIA, or to remove the uncertainties surrounding NHI. In fact, the speech suggests there is no room for consultation with, or input from, the private sector. His insistence on establishing a public insurer, despite the fact that this make no economic sense and is an unnecessary drain on taxpayer funds, demonstrates a total disregard for the views of the BIA.

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Cable Bahamas launches new REV web site optimised for mobile users
Thursday, 18 June 2015 06:30

NASSAU, Bahamas -- After a radical rebranding exercise in 2011, Cable Bahamas has reinvented itself yet again by giving its web presence a complete makeover. The upgraded company site, which goes live on Thursday, June 18 at cablebahamas.com, has been entirely rebuilt to include an ultramodern design, streamlined user experience, enhanced content and expanded features.

Topping the list of the web site's key changes is its sleek and fully responsive design. The all-new site has been optimised for use across almost any screen size, meaning users can experience the site's vibrant new look and convenient features whether they are using a desktop computer, mobile smartphone or tablet device.

"Smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of our lives and a very important component of the company's growth strategy," said David Burrows, Cable Bahamas' vice president of marketing.

"Coming into this process of redesigning our company site, our goal was to ensure that we provide the best possible user experience for visitors accessing the site via mobile and desktop devices," Mr Burrows said. "We are very pleased that we can now deliver an enhanced level of functionality, information, and continuity to site visitors regardless of the device they choose."

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DNA commentary: BAHAMAR - The Dream VS. Reality!
Submitted by the DNA party   
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 14:34

The opening of the highly touted Bahamar Resort, had been billed as one of the greatest economic drivers in our country’s recent history. Armed with impressive designs, and grandiose plans for tourism promotion and growth, improved employment projects and millions in China secured funding, the company’s principals, supported by the Government of the Bahamas, began to build the dream. It was a dream which thousands of Bahamians bought into, and for a time, it appeared that the dream of Bahamar would become the reality. Over the past year and a half however, the once clear vision of economic prosperity promised by that development has faded into nothing more than a mirage. Now, after three separate delays, public wrangling with the lead contractor and a rumor mill which has spawned weeks of media and public speculation, it remains unclear exactly if and when the multi-billion dollar resort will open.

Equally troubling has been the impact of these delays on the lives of Bahamar’s employees; thousands of men and women – many of whom left other employment opportunities to join the “BAHANATION” – fates now remain unsettled. Despite the many varied conversations being had about Bahamar, no one is speaking up on behalf of the more than two thousand Bahamians who have, for all intents and purposes, been left twisting in the wind while the company’s executives attempt – so far unsuccessfully – to resolve its lingering disputes with China State Construction.

According to published media reports, those employees, many of them highly skilled and qualified in various fields have been reassigned to other areas of the property while others have joined forces with Urban Renewal to complete community projects around the island. The Democratic National Alliance recognizes the efforts of Bahamar to keep its employees on the payroll and for that they are to be commended. Unfortunately, such a position cannot be sustained indefinitely. The question is, how long before the situation becomes untenable? And what consequences will it hold for those Bahamian workers?

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DNA press release - Government Foe NOT Friend!
Submitted by the DNA party   
Tuesday, 16 June 2015 08:42

Since taking office in 2012, the Christie administration’s record on labor relations has been less than stellar. In fact, labor relations in the country have never been worse. Less than a week after marching alongside members of the country’s labor movement, government officials have sat back and watched the unfair persecution of Hotel Union President Nicole Martin who was arrested by local authorities this past Friday while attempting to intervene on behalf of employees who have already been disenfranchised by management at the One and Only Ocean Club.

Her visit to the Paradise Island property follows a decision by the hotel’s management to make 29 employees redundant, a move which Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe dubbed “unfortunate”. According to the published media reports, Martin and her team of union executives were barred from a meeting which was being held between management and the employees even though tenants of the union’s industrial agreement had already been violated.

Sadly, the violation of the constitutional rights of those hotel employees is not the most unfortunate thing as the Minister has suggested. That distinction is reserved for the government’s reaction to the flagrant disregard shown for the agreement negotiated on behalf of those workers by the union.

While Ms. Martin was released without charge, Martin’s arrest only highlights the level of hypocrisy of scores of government officials who, just days ago, marched with Martin in a show of solidarity with the country’s unions but have since remained silent on the issue.

Even more disturbing was the apparent level of forced used by police in detaining Martin who was reportedly physically retrained at one point and ordered to leave Paradise Island. While authorities may have felt it necessary to remove Martin from the hotel’s property it was unnecessary for them to demand her removal from Paradise Island.

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