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DNA commentary: Two years for Freedom of Information is too late!
Submitted by the DNA Party   
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 10:06
While the country grapples with countless social ills, and the throes of a stagnant economy, we as a people are further forced to contend with an incompetent government who has proven time and time again that they do not have the growth and development of the country at the heart of their legislative agenda.  

The Democratic National Alliance along with countless other organizations has led the call for a Freedom of Information Act as part of efforts to pull the country from the shadows of corruption and malfeasance. Unfortunately, secrecy and mystery continue to shroud the government’s dealings even as the people cry for greater accountability from its elected officials. Unfortunately, the government has chosen to stonewall its people by denying them access to key details on plans for forward development, even as our greatest ally, the United States of America, publicly questions the country’s commitment to transparency and accountability in governance.  

The DNA was most disappointed by this PLP government’s forecast that it would take up to two years to complete the amendments needed for the Freedom of Information Bill to be enacted. This important piece of legislation has already been allowed to languish in Parliament for two years since the former Free National Movement Administration passed the bill in 2012. It should be noted that during the debate in March 2012 the PLP who was the opposition at the time had an opportunity to review the draft legislation and made suggested amendments at that time. The PLP subsequently stated during its campaign that they would implement a proper Freedom of Information Act! They now say that they need two more years to effect the necessary amendments to the bill. This would then give the PLP almost 4 years from March 2012 when they first reviewed it to 2016 to determine a proper Freedom of Information Act. This government can only be described as talking fool.  

More than 90 countries around the world have already enacted some form of freedom of information resulting in enhanced democracies.

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RBC wins prestigious Retail Banker International Award
Submitted by Barefoot Marketing   
Monday, 14 July 2014 11:49
Photo: The employees of RBC were honoured today with the most prestigious international prize that Retail Banker International (RBI) can bestow in its yearly global awards competition - Global Retail Bank of the Year.  The annual RBI Awards are a well-established global competition and highly regarded within the industry as a mark of exceptional performance. In addition to being named Global Retail Bank of the Year, RBC was shortlisted in five other categories including North American Retail Bank of the Year; Retail Banker of the Year; Best Branch Strategy; Best Use of Digital Marketing; and Best Digital Channels Strategy, which received an honourable mention. (Photo courtesy of RBC for Barefoot Marketing)TORONTO, Ontario – The employees of RBC were honoured today with the most prestigious international prize that Retail Banker International (RBI) can bestow in its yearly global awards competition - Global Retail Bank of the Year.

The annual RBI Awards are a well-established global competition and highly regarded within the industry as a mark of exceptional performance. In addition to being named Global Retail Bank of the Year, RBC was shortlisted in five other categories including North American Retail Bank of the Year; Retail Banker of the Year; Best Branch Strategy; Best Use of Digital Marketing; and Best Digital Channels Strategy, which received an honourable mention.

“By every measure – record financial performance, sustainable profitable growth and outperforming its peer group in a wide variety of metrics - RBC led the way in North America and internationally,” said Douglas Blakey, Editor, Retail Banker International. “RBC is also being recognized for continuing to dominate the Canadian landscape in terms of good governance, integrity, diversity and corporate social responsibility, which all contributed to an exceptional year for RBC.”

RBC was the only Canadian bank to win an award, a notable achievement in a wide field with just under 300 banks nominated for RBI Awards globally.

“It’s a great honour to see RBC recognized globally,” said Gord Nixon, RBC’s Chief Executive Officer. “These awards are a testament to the outstanding leadership of our President Dave McKay, formerly the Group Head of Personal & Commercial Banking, and our employees’ incredible dedication and commitment to serving our clients and supporting the communities in which we operate.”

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Statement from Fred Mitchell Foreign Minister
Submitted by Elcott Coleby   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 14:08
RESPONDING TO BRENT SYMONETTE (Former Foreign Affairs Minister)
8th July 2014
Nassau, The Bahamas  

I once told Brent Symonette the former Deputy Prime Minister to climb back under the rock from which he came.  I renew that call today.  He has accused me in this morning's Tribune of "grandstanding" because I am standing up for The Bahamas.  Here we go again with this nastiness.  

There is a difference between the policy of the FNM and the PLP when it comes to the defence of The Bahamas and our foreign policy.  The FNM and its spokesmen only see the case of the other country, not the case for The Bahamas.  The FNM 's foreign policy supports silence, stupidity, and obsequiousness and apologetic behavior.  The PLP stands up for The Bahamas.  One day the FNM will grow a spine and stand up for Bahamians.  

Substantively on the matter of the NSA spying allegations, The Bahamas is doing its own work and what we do about it will have nothing to do with whether or not the Americans answer our reasonable request.  The fact is a spokesman for an honourable country the United States Of America, made a promise to provide an explanation.  Honourable countries are expected to do honourable things.  Since the United States is an honourable country, I  and Bahamians have every right to expect that the United States will in these circumstances do the honourable thing.    

 
41st Independence Anniversary message by Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, Opposition Leader
Submitted by Katherine Stewart-Gibson   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 09:46
Message to the Bahamian People

BY THE HON. DR. HUBERT A. MINNIS, MP

Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition

on the 41st Anniversary of Independence

Forty One years ago, at the hour of midnight, the Union Jack, the symbol of British Colonialism, was lowered for the final time in our country. In its place, was raised, the gold, aquamarine and black flag of a free and independent Bahamas.

The dream of equality, freedom and fair play for every citizen of this country, of whatever sexual gender, race, creed or colour, began in my father’s generation, in the hearts of men like R.M Bailey, S.C. McPherson, L. Walton Young, A. Leon McKinney, Charles Rodriquez, Dr. Claudius Roland Walker, Bert Cambridge; and women like Mabel Walker, Georgiana Symonette and Mary Ingraham.

This dream was fulfilled on July 10th 1973, through the determined, selfless and untiring efforts of men like Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling, Sir Randolph Fawkes, Sir Arthur Dion Hanna, Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, Sir Clement T. Maynard, Sir Arthur Alexander Foulkes, Curtis McMillan, James Shepherd, Garnett Levarity, Paul Lawrence Adderley and Geoffrey Thompson and so many others. These men, and women like Dame Doris Johnson, are all true heroes of Bahamian Independence.

President John F. Kennedy said it well over fifty years ago at his Inauguration, when he observed that “the torch has now passed to a new generation…”. It is now the time for the new generation of Bahamian leaders to take up the torch, and to advance the dream. Such an undertaking is not easy, for while we enjoy greater political, social and economic opportunities than the previous generation could only imagine, there is still much work to be done to ensure that more and more Bahamians come to enjoy the full fruits of Nationhood, civic participation and greater ownership in the Bahamian economy.

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DNA commentary: Is this where we should be after 41 years of independence?
Submitted by Branville McCartney   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 10:52
Are you satisfied with our country after forty one (41) years of Independence and 47 years of PLP and FNM Governance?  

As we look at our Bahama land forty one (41) years after independence I would ask our Bahamian citizens to really take a look at where we are as a country and ask yourself if you are satisfied with the status quo.  

Consider this: Crime in this country is at an all time high. Successive governments have failed to fulfill their fundamental duty and that is the protection of its citizens. We are daily under attack by the criminal element. Illegal immigration continues to flourish in our country with the continued growth of shantytowns. Unemployment is perhaps the highest it has ever been with no light at the end of the tunnel; the promised 10,000 jobs being just a political promise. Bahamians continue to lose their homes on a large scale as the highly promoted mortgage relief plan never materialized. The cost of living and doing business in this country is one of the highest in this region. Food prices and the cost of gas are just too high and the cost of electricity is astronomical. Summertime, in particular, has become known for blackouts. There has been little to no movement for the introduction of alternative energy.

Our environment and personal health are constantly under attack because of the city dump that successive governments have turned a blind eye to. Our country is dirty. Our educational system has not enhanced and best practices in education in the Bahamas seem to be taboo! Our students remain at a D average. The public health system can only be described as a mess. Public transportation has not improved in forty one (41) years. We have lost our standing as the number one tourist destination in this region. Our financial sector has gone south. Our national debt is almost 6 billion dollars. Successive governments have failed to diversify our economy. Food security is something that we do not have. The despair index is the highest it has ever been.

Our Second city, Grand Bahama, is depressed. Our Bahamian people are not empowered. There is lack of opportunity for Bahamians. We have a brain drain! As opposed to “a bridge to the future” we have a bridge from the Bahamas! We are quickly becoming a Welfare State. Gender Equality has not become a reality. We have no Freedom of Information Act. The Public Disclosure Act for public officials has been ignored. There has been no campaign finance reform. We fail to explore our other natural resources for the good of the Bahamian people. Our governments have not been accountable and transparent.  

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