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DNA party calls Social Services 'A Sham!'
Submitted by the DNA party   
Monday, 02 March 2015 08:46
As the country’s economic climate has worsened in recent years, more and more Bahamians have found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. According to statistics released in June of 2014, the level of poverty in the Bahamas has risen steadily since 2001 when the Bahamas Living Conditions Survey (BLCS) calculated the rate at 9.3%. At that time the poverty line was $2,863. Now in 2015, it is estimated that a staggering 43 thousand persons in this country currently live under the poverty line representing 12.8% of the entire population.

During the mid-year budget debate, further statistics revealed by Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin painted a dismal picture that cemented for the record the extreme conditions facing our people.

The advent of Value Added Tax (VAT) only further threatens to exacerbate an already contentious situation. Since January 1, Bahamians have been forced to pay even more for basic items such as food, electricity and clothing; all while the government again devises a plan to further tax the country to fund National Health Insurance (NHI).

In light of these obviously difficult circumstances, it is even more troubling to learn that the country’s social services programs – which so many Bahamian families have become reliant on – have morphed into nothing more than a sham rather than attempt to truly assist struggling families.

Just this weekend, hundreds of individuals gathered in lines outside the department’s office on Horseshoe Drive. As part of its continued community outreach the DNA’s Women’s Alliance was present to provide waiting patrons with hot tea, cocoa, bottled water and other snack items FREE OF CHARGE while they waited to be seen.
Elcott Coleby reviews this week in The Bahamas (February 23-27, 2015)
Submitted by Elcott Coleby   
Monday, 02 March 2015 08:16

The conclusion of the midyear budget debate; the tabling of the much anticipated “Belonger’s Permit” Regulations and the meeting of CARICOM government heads dominated the news this week in The Bahamas.

Midyear budget debate concludes

As debate on the midyear budget statement continued in the House on Monday (23rd Feb), Labour Minister Hon. D. Shane Gibson informed House members that the National Insurance Board is discontinuing the practice of accepting contributions from illegal immigrants. This new policy is part of the overall and far reaching immigration policy reforms designed to set out the terms and conditions under which non-Bahamians live and work in The Bahamas.

Health Minister the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez revealed that National Health Insurance (NHI) is still on schedule for implementation in 2016, but told House members that the exact cost to each taxpayer has not been determined.

Education, Science and Technology Minister Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald reaffirmed the government’s commitment to establish the University of The Bahamas by 2016. He further reported on the five areas of intervention to improve scholastic performance in the public school system: School Leadership, Teacher Training, a new achievement unit, Special Education and the expansion of pre-schools.

Highest results in four years for CIBC FirstCaribbean
Submitted by Serena Williams   
Thursday, 26 February 2015 10:16

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- CIBC FirstCaribbean has announced its best quarterly financial performance in four years. For the three months ended January 31, 2015, the Bank recorded net income of $26.6 million, which is its best performance since 2010.  

In making the announcement, CEO Rik Parkhill, noted: “Our results were driven by lower loan loss impairment expenses and lower operating expenses.  This is a solid improvement in our performance when compared with net income of $15.4 million for the same period last year.”

The improved performance comes despite a decrease in total revenue of $7.3 million year over year. The CEO noted that this decrease was primarily due to lower loan earnings and lower gains from investment security sales. However, he added that operating expenses were down by $4.0 million compared with the same period last year, as the Bank continues to benefit from expense control initiatives and savings from the ongoing restructuring of its operations.

Loan loss impairment expenses, which featured heavily in the Bank’s recent results, were also down significantly by $14.9 million compared with the prior year. Mr. Parkhill noted that this is the third consecutive quarter of reduced loan loss levels year-over-year.  

The challenges being faced by regional economies continue to have an effect on the Bank’s performance. The CEO noted that this is consistent with the experience of the industry region-wide. The challenging credit environment which continues to affect some of the markets CIBC FirstCaribbean operates in has also been a factor in the Bank’s performance.

PLP National Chairman: Minnis flip flops on NHI
Submitted by OnBahamas   
Thursday, 26 February 2015 08:23

By: Bradley B. Roberts  National Chairman  Progressive Liberal Party  

Dr. Hubert Minnis has no credibility, his words cannot be trusted and his latest stage act of flip flopping on National Health Insurance (NHI) is tangible proof of this.

Dr. Minnis' batting average on important policy matters remains perfect as he managed to flip flop and land on the wrong side of history on VAT, Gaming and now NHI - arguably three of the most transformational and consequential public policy initiatives of the past decade.

Just in case Dr. Minnis has a short or selective memory, I wish to remind him that the FNM is on record as supporting both NHI and a levy to finance same; they said so during the 2007 general election campaign. Minnis sat around the FNM cabinet table and approved a levy to finance the prescription drug plan as the first phase of NHI implementation. He agreed with a phased approach to NHI right up to May 7th2012 only to now oppose NHI.  

As much as he tries to convince Bahamians that he cares about their health and general wellbeing and will put them first, it is only a matter of time before he shows his true colours. The fact is Minnis does not care about Bahamians and will not put Bahamians first. He believes that in a free, modern, democratic Bahamas - if Bahamians are sick and cannot afford proper healthcare, they should and deserve to die. This is the consequence of Minnis' new position; this is terrible leadership and not the Bahamian way. Dr. Minnis must learn how to be a Bahamian.   

DNA commentary: Crime situation 'critical' in New Providence
Submitted by the DNA party   
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 14:25

Critical. That was the word most recently used by US State Department Officials to categorize the state of violent crime in New Providence. In recent years, crime and the fear of crime have continued to grab headlines. Violent crime has, on an almost daily basis, spilled into our streets, claiming the lives of hundreds of men and women. For what seems to be the umpteenth time, our greatest ally to the north, has taken note of the increasingly dangerous situation developing in our local communities and are again warning visitors to our shores about the precarious situation.

Despite its many commitments to ensuring the safety and security of citizens, residents and visitors, this Christie led administration has failed to adequately address the issues of crime and criminality within our borders. While in opposition this Christie government claimed to have the answers. In the run up to the 2012 general election, the PLP campaigned heavily on the issue of crime. In fact Mr. Christie claimed to be ready on day 1. Touting plans such as Urban Renewal 2.0 and Project Safe Bahamas, the PLP proudly displayed horrific crime statistics on billboards that they plastered across the island. At the time, the PLP was content to use the tragic deaths of hundreds of Bahamians as a campaign tool. Since then however, the countless initiatives put forward by this government have had no real impact.

With each horrific spate of murders, rapes, and armed robberies, Mr. Christie and his government are forced to go back to the drawing board in some last ditch effort to bring about some real change. Even as the government continues to strategize, instances of political interference in the work of the Royal Bahamas Police Force threatens to undermine what minimal progress is actually being made.

The Commissioner of Police along with dedicated members of the Police Force continue to do everything within their power to get criminals off the street; unfortunately politicians in this country have been allowed to intervene on behalf of friends family members and lovers to the detriment of those efforts.

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