Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Food Security in The Bahamas

Ministry of Agriculture Implements Project To Advance Food Security in The Bahamas


By Jones Bahamas:


The sweet potato is the most important edible root to food security, followed by cassava in The Bahamas. Successive projects have aimed at increasing the amount of root crops produced, in an effort to satisfy increasing local demand for these commodities.

In both Abaco and Andros significant acreages of sweet potato have been planted using improved varieties. The Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government has received approval for a research project: “Selection of marketable varieties of sweet potatoes and cassava.”

The purpose of the sweet project is to choose and obtain planting material for promising varieties of sweet potato and cassava, prepare trial crops in chosen islands, follow up its management and results and based on findings as to the best suited sweet potato and cassavas for production, train farmers and make planting materials accessible to farmers.

The technical and financial resources for the project will be provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government, in cooperation with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).

The technical staff of the Department of Agriculture will be responsible for managing the project, using existing programme to improve the seed availability and crop management. At the end of the project it is expected that farmers would have a wider selection of high yielding sweet potato and cassava planting material which is suited to local growing conditions.

July 29, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Gender equality issue in The Bahamas is set to be addressed via a constitutional referendum

Have Your Say: Bills To Bring About Gender Equality



Tribune242 Nassau, The Bahamas:



PRIME Minister Perry Christie announced the introduction of four bills in the House of Assembly on Wednesday morning which, once passed, will effect a constitutional referendum.

BILL 1: Would allow a child born outside of the Bahamas to a Bahamian mother and a non-Bahamian father to have citizenship.

BILL 2: Would allow a foreign man married to a Bahamian woman to seek citizenship.

BILL 3: Would allow an unmarried Bahamian father to pass his citizenship to a child born to a foreign mother.

BILL 4: Would end discrimination based on sex.

Have you been affected by any of these issues? Are they relevant to your life? If so, you can leave your comments below.

July 23, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Black Bahamian Beauty

NicoleIf you’ve seen a photo of me, other than the one posted here every week on this column, you’re thinking “where is this vanilla-skinned woman going talking about black Bahamian beauty?”

Hold that thought.

There was a time in history, not even so long ago, when I would have been considered too black to be white in some countries. And, yes, in some other countries, I would have been too white to be black.

This need to identify racial differences was driven by ignorance. Today, it still is.

People were then, as some still are now, unfamiliar with others who looked nothing like them, and they built their prejudices and judgments, and eventually hatreds, on their differences, fueled further by the human need to be right or to be best, and by the many intolerances of their parents and others before them who perpetuated this kind of thinking.

Now, after decades, centuries of racial mixing, when greater knowledge and less ignorance should exist because of greater exposure between countries and cultures, the separations continue.

The need to see and keep people in color blocks stems from an individual’s need to feel more comfortable about her or his position with respect to that other person. People long to fit in, be understood and loved. And if there are any perceived threats to them fitting in, being understood, or being loved, or the chance they might be considered unworthy of these things they long for, then they immediately begin an internal campaign to challenge the things and people they regard as threats to their comfort. From the comforts of racism to the comforts of relationships, this applies across the human experience.

The mere fact that everything always comes down to black and white, black or white, black versus white, is a lingering disturbance, but I have heard the question asked recently, “is The Bahamas racially divided?” “Do black Bahamians hate white Bahamians and vice versa?”

Maybe I’m not the one to answer this, because no one ever knows what I am. (Insert laughter here.) But when you hear Bahamians make serious racial slurs, in either direction, they’re just being one of two things: ignorant or hateful. And when you have a conversation with them, you find that the story goes a bit deeper, usually back to some personal experience that left them with emotional or mental discomfort, or something more psychologically invasive like a full-fledged mental (re)conditioning inflicted by 1) their own people, or, 2) an outsider.

A while back, I met a little girl at a private school sports meet. I should say, more accurately, she met me. She was about five years old. And I guess she gravitated towards me because she wanted to have a conversation about something that made her uncomfortable, and she was looking for some resolution.

She told me that she wished she was white. I told her that she should never say that or feel that way because she was beautiful… and she really was. But, of course, being who I am, I had to find out more about why this child, at five years of age, was already on this road to self-hate.

Every reason she gave me for wanting to be white was superficial, or mostly aesthetic, and in the end I concluded that her dilemma stemmed from the fact that she didn’t want to look the way she did because someone had, along the way, told her or shown her that her skin color made her inadequate.

Now, because I grew up in The Bahamas, my own experience reminded me that it was likely that the other little kids who looked just like her could have had a lot to do with this little girl’s interpretation of herself and the low self-esteem that would arise later on because of it, affecting, quite possibly, every part of her life and her outlook on life.

Yes, there are always some other influences in these circumstances, and with a little more time in this little girl’s company I might have discovered more. But, drawing on my own encounters, I was willing to bet that there was something going on closer to home. Someone was reinforcing for her that her brown skin was not as good as lighter skin. I would also be willing to bet that, at present, there is still at least one generation of brown-skinned people who don’t know or love themselves as they are, which is mind-blowing to me in a predominantly black country. And the perpetrators? Often ourselves… in the way we have subconsciously adapted the concepts of beauty over many years of being subjected to what we believed to be superior to us.

Sit and listen to the children playing in the streets or on a playground. Children can be so cruel and heartless, and Bahamian children have a special type and method of ‘cruelty’ when they grab on to the use of certain hurtful words. It is not uncommon to hear them taunt each other about their skin color: “come from here with your black self”, “well mudda sick, you look black, boy”, or “you so black and ugly.”

Where are these children hearing these things and why do they relive them every day? This special kind of thinking comes from a special kind of environment, with a special kind of parent or parents or adults who perpetuate it.

And it makes me wonder, where is the mother’s love in this equation? What about my little friend? What would her mother say if she heard her child telling me these things about her skin color preference? Or, maybe, she’d say nothing, because she herself says these things to the child or around the child. And maybe, just maybe, she, the mother, feels the same way about herself.

And I reflect on my own mother.

I was a mixed child who grew up with a predominantly black family. Unless they knew my maternal relatives, the assumption of most people I encountered was that I was white. But my mom never gave me any reason to believe I was different. We never had a need to have a conversation about race… not until I was almost a teenager, and she told me about the idiot (my word) who worked with her who, whenever he saw me, would call me ‘Imitation of Life.’

As a child, and at that time, I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but, when I grew a little older and watched the movie by the same name, it broke my heart. The movie itself was sad, but it was even sadder and more heartbreaking to me that someone could label me with such a burdensome title and know nothing about me. And from that moment on I became more aware of racial differences and intolerances, but most specifically the black Bahamian’s dislike for self and need for constant comparison, evaluation, and approval.

It never dawned on me that my skin color could make so many people perplexed, and that ranged from shock and speechlessness, to excitement at the novelty, to disgust and jealousy.

As I got older, the comments and questions got more ridiculous. While at COB, I recall another student walking up to me and asking “are you black or white?” And even though I had come to expect it by then, it still always caught me off guard. It never stopped being strange that someone had such a need for an answer to this question that had nothing to do with them.

I started to have a little fun with my responses, just to entertain myself, because surely this was a joke. Sometimes I would say ‘both’. Sometimes I would say ‘neither’. Sometimes I would ask, “Which makes you feel better?” Of course, on those latter occasions, I would get dead air. I still do this. And if today someone says ‘hey white girl’, I say ‘hey black boy/ girl’ and watch their silent, jaw-dropped reactions to the absurdity of the way that sounds.

From the insane comments about my good hair (which, by the way, still happens), to the more foolish comment that I was white and I thought I was better than they were, over the years the racial feedback grew in intensity.

And I remember feeling afire inside, finally deciding that no, I don’t think I’m white, I know what I am, but you apparently think I’m white, and are obsessed with labeling me to make yourself more comfortable with your interpretation of me.

In spite of the many mixed babies being born the world over and in The Bahamas, this assumption still holds strong to this day. I think this idea that I and others like me (perceived white) automatically have thoughts of superiority is based more on the fact that those who believe this automatically have thoughts of inferiority about themselves. Clearly, they were then and still are ignorant of my parentage, and it is has never been my concern to explain it to them. But it does starkly reveal the deficiencies in their own parentage which has caused them to see themselves in such a negative light, deficiencies perfected by years of practice being something other than they are.

Through the simple cultural routine of hair relaxing, pressing, and now weaving, to the skin bleaching, I realize that it is ingrained in our black Bahamian women (and men) to deny their true selves and their true beauty.
Could this be what happened to my little friend who wanted to be white?

The (Bahamian) black woman is taught, subconsciously, that her hair must be straighter. Some black women are taught that their skin must be lighter.

And in my years of observing my own culture, I’ve never known anyone to perpetuate these stereotypes more than the black woman herself, save for a few random exceptions, to fit the norm of societal expectation.

My mum has, since I was a child, worn her natural hair in a low afro. My grammy did, too. It was my norm to see this, and for black women to be this way. They were just being themselves. It was the standard of self-love and self-approval. It was a sincere lack of interest in conforming to those haunting and depleting social norms, something I held on to and have never, ever let go of. If you know me, you know I am a nonconformist in every possible way, and I care nothing about people’s opinions of me. And I think that, next to immeasurable love, is the greatest gift my mother and grandmother have given me.

When I look at Mummy, I see a woman of color with natural hair breaking barriers in an enslaved concept of black beauty. And when I see other black women who have done or are doing the same, intentionally or otherwise, I sing a little victory song inside, because there’s nothing more empowering for little girls, who one day become mothers of entire nations, to see their own mothers love themselves so completely.

It tells me that they know who they are and they love who they are. It tells me that if they can love themselves this way, their children will be more likely to love themselves in the same way. And if this could happen all around the country, there would be fewer little Bahamian girls telling me and other random strangers that they wish they were white. And they can stop looking at their differences from the perspective of needing to conform or change themselves on the basis of an arbitrary standard of beauty, and more from the perspective of celebrating themselves as they naturally are. And if they can celebrate their many differences even in beauty, then the differences, one day, perhaps won’t matter as much.

• Nicole Burrows is an academically-trained economist. She can be contacted via Facebook at Facebook.com/NicoleBurrows.

June 16, 2014

thenassauguardian

Monday, July 14, 2014

Latin America: Fertile ground for Russian President Vladimir Putin's foray

LatAm: Fertile ground for Putin's foray


By Christian Molinari
Business News Americas:


Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to step foot in Latin America on a tour of a region that seems to be getting cozier with the Kremlin's courting.

The approach is in stark contrast to US President Barack Obama's lukewarm advances, as Washington has disregarded its southern neighbors in favor of the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions.

Add to that US secretary of state John Kerry's end-2013 announcement that "the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over" and you have a forsaken emerging market region, parts of which may be ripe for Putin's picking.

The Russian leader's serenades may largely fall on deaf ears in Latin America's western countries grouped under the Pacific Alliance, which remain fairly aligned with the US, but other traditionally left-leaning nations are eager for attention.

First stop on Putin's itinerary, unsurprisingly, will be Cuba – a staunch ally with whom the relationship has just been sweetened by the Russian parliament's agreeing to write off 90% of the US$35bn in Cuban debt, which was racked up in Soviet-era times. (All the more magnanimous considering that Russia's government is looking to tighten its belt to offset Western sanctions as a result of the Ukraine crisis.)

The debt forgiveness will speak volumes in the next stop on Putin's tour: Argentina, where President Cristina Fernández is currently measuring her options in whether to negotiate with bond holdouts or face another debt default.

Putin will then end his tour in Brazil to participate in the BRICS summit to be held there, while at the same time President Dilma Rousseff will hand-off World Cup hosting responsibilities to the leader of Russia, home of the 2018 tournament.

The tour comes on the heels of news proclaimed by Russia's defense minister, Sergei Shogu, that Moscow is looking to build military bases in a number of countries, including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Testing the waters, so to speak, a Russian warship docked at a Havana naval base a few days after the February announcement.

What's clear is that for better or worse, US influence is waning in Latin America.

With a single focus on its strategic economic interests in the region, China has stepped in to fill part of that vacuum. The Asian giant, however, is facing an economic slowdown of its own – and slower Chinese growth will have significant implications for Latin America.

Coming into its own with a vast emerging middle class, regional giant Brazil is also taking a historic place on the Latin American stage. But the country has been plagued by high inflation and low growth.

And struggling for position, the Kremlin is eager to take advantage of economic opportunities in the region. Russia's big oil and gas companies want a piece of the Latin American pie, getting involved in Venezuela but also looking into the famous Vaca Muerta shale play.

Perhaps he will fall short in his goals of restoring the defunct Soviet Union's reach and glory, but Putin's actions will at least serve as a thorny, troublesome bush in 'Washington's backyard'.

July 08, 2014


...it is the wrong time to propose implementing value-added tax (VAT) in The Bahamas ...as he it would likely spawn more social ills ...if the Bahamian economy doesn’t improve in the coming months ...says Bahamas Christian Council (BCC)

Patterson: VAT may increase suffering

Christian Council head says economy too fragile for new tax


BY KRYSTEL ROLLE-BROWN
Guardian Staff Reporter
krystel@nasguard.com
Nassau, The Bahamas


With less than six months before the introduction of value-added tax (VAT), Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Dr. Ranford Patterson warned that it is the wrong time to propose implementing the new tax, as he believes it would likely spawn more social ills if the economy doesn’t improve in the coming months.

Patterson said while the BCC generally supports the government’s efforts toward tax reform, the timing of its introduction could cause more problems.

Patterson said he also has some reservations about the rate of the tax.

“No government can operate without tax reform,” he said. “But I believe this is a [bad] time to pose any new tax on the Bahamian people. But we understand that there is a need to tax reform.

“I believe that the lower income people in our country are going to suffer even more as a result of the implementation of VAT. I think there needs to be a balance of the time and the rate. Everything needs to be at the right time.

“I don’t think we are at the right time. There are too many people who are out of a job. There are too many people who don’t have the basic necessities.”

Asked if he believes that January would be better, he said, “If the economy remains the way it is, then the answer is no”.

“I think we’ll see more social ills. Things will get much worse if the economy doesn’t change soon.”

The government intends to bring the VAT legislation to the House of Assembly before the end of this month, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis confirmed earlier this week.

He said the education campaign will pick up in earnest following the tabling of that bill. He also suggested that the education process will help ease some of the fear that the new tax has caused.

But Patterson said he isn’t sure about that.

“Everybody is weary of it,” he said.

“Everybody is afraid of the fact that what I can buy for a dollar today, it won’t be valued for a dollar tomorrow. That’s a challenge.”

He said the government must “be careful how we implement these taxes and when we implement them”.

Prime Minister Perry Christie recently expressed confidence that the economy would improve over the next six months.

He told reporters earlier this month that he is “excited” about the country’s future prospects.

July 12, 2014

thenassauguardian

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gender discrimination remains in the constitution of an independent Bahamas

Struggle For Gender Equality



By TANEKA THOMPSON
tmthompson@tribunemedia.net
Nassau, The Bahamas:


As the country gears up to celebrate its 41st anniversary of independence this week, it is clear that Bahamians do have many reasons to be thankful. We have a stable government, the stagnant economy appears to be slowly getting better and while crime and a high rate of joblessness continue to plague our country, things are not so bad.

However the gender discrimination that remains in our constitution is a glaring reminder that the Christie administration has thus far failed to live up to its promise to hold a referendum to address the issue which puts Bahamian women at a disadvantage to their male counterparts.

The government missed its third self-imposed deadline for the constitutional referendum on gender equality last month. After it botched the gambling referendum in January 2013, it is no wonder that the Christie administration is hesitant to get the ball rolling on another similar process. However while the government was quick to galvanise the gambling vote (which mattered little in the grand scheme of things considering the Christie administration has disregarded the results of that poll and still plans to go ahead with the regulation the web shop sector) it seems slow to act on a referendum that will impact future generations of Bahamians.

Disappointment

Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner, who served as minister of state for social development in the last Ingraham administration, told Insight she is “livid” at the repeated delays in the constitutional reform process. She lamented the fact that the government seems hell-bent on regulating the underground web shop sector but has dragged its feet in bringing about constitutional reform.

“As a young nation, 41 years of age, we have had ample time to get it right,” she said. “We’ve been promised, we’ve been hoodwinked, we’ve been really lied to from last year. On July 10, 2013 we were supposed to celebrate the first year of full equality for women. Here we are at our 41st year, a year later, and the government has misled the people again. They (fell down) in their commitment to do what is right.

“Bahamian women, Bahamian families, should be enraged that this government has not seen fit to do the right thing,” she added. “But yet, here we are concerned about appeasing a small group of individuals in terms of gambling, even after the referendum. The government is spending huge resources to make sure that these people (web shop bosses) are catered to. Women should be outraged at the fact that the government places less importance and emphasis on them, their families and their children and more emphasis on their benefactors who they wish to appease.”

George Smith, a Cabinet minister in the Pindling administration, was one of several who helped frame the country’s constitution ahead of independence in 1973. He said he hoped the government would have held a constitutional referendum by now to not only remove the discrimination against women, but to hopefully address some of the other pertinent recommendations for reform made by the Constitutional Commission.

“We felt it was not a major issue at the time,” he told Insight, when asked why the discriminatory provision against women was included in the constitution. “Those of us who went to London in the cold month of December in 1972 knew that once we attained independence, all those other things could be dealt with. But the prevailing view at the time was that women followed the domicile of their husbands.”

“No one at the time thought women were unequal,” he added. “There wasn’t that feeling. It wasn’t an issue that was front and centre on the agenda at the time to deal with. It wasn’t given the attention that today we probably wished we would have given it. It wasn’t a deliberate and considered act against women, it just wasn’t front and centre at the time.”

Still Mr Smith believes the country’s constitution is not a flawed document and added that the issues that need to be addressed in the document do not reflect poorly on the country.

“In fact, we have fared well over the last 41 years, we have issues but we have a constitution that many have been content with but for those issues, gender inequality and others, it’s a constitution that has served us well,” Mr Smith told Insight. “Generally (as a country) we’ve done well. We’re very stable, we have an economy that’s resilient and it will get much better. Sometimes it’s easy to look at what’s wrong with the government, every country in the world has challenges.”

Promises and delays

Speaking in the House of Assembly in July 2012, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell first announced the government’s intent to try to right one of the Progressive Liberal Party’s wrongs. Ten years after the PLP contributed to the failure of the first referendum which aimed, among other things, to remove the entrenched constitutional discrimination against Bahamian women, Mr Mitchell revealed the government’s plans to hold a referendum, that if successful, would grant Bahamian women the same rights as Bahamian men to pass citizenship on to their children.

“The government is committed to removing the constitutional anomaly which exists with regard to women and the ability to pass on their citizenship to their children,” Mr Mitchell said in 2012.

He added: “The government proposes to amend those provisions in the constitution with regard to discrimination against women, so that it is clear that gender cannot be a reason to discriminate against an individual.”

At the time the Fox Hill MP said the planned vote would take place within the Christie administration’s five-year term. Since then, Prime Minister Perry Christie has announced several different deadlines for the vote, all dates the government has missed, leaving women to wonder how seriously this government takes the issue.

The Prime Minister had said initially the vote would take place by June of last year, ahead of the country’s 40th anniversary of independence. However in February 2013, Mr Christie announced in Parliament that he had postponed the vote until late November of that year. He said he was acting on advice of Sean McWeeney, QC, and chairman of the Constitutional Commission. He added that the delay would give the government more time to launch an extensive education campaign and dialogue with the public on the important process.

“This is an extremely important undertaking, one that is vital to the orderly growth and development of our constitutional democracy, and the rights and freedoms we hold so dear. Indeed, I would go further and suggest that the process of constitutional reform is vital to the growth and development of our civilisation as a sovereign people,” Mr Christie said at the time.

But last October, Mr Christie announced that the November 2013 date had been postponed. He then said the process would take place by the end of June this year, after an extensive educational campaign.

The Constitutional Commission made its report to the government last July. In its report, the commission outlined 73 recommendations for constitutional reform.

The bills needed to effect the referendum were expected to be brought to Parliament by the end of last year. Mr Christie had also promised that these bills would have passed through the chambers of Parliament by February this year: however the bills have yet to be tabled.

When asked about the matter at the end of June, Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage could not give the media a new date for the proposed vote.

“I cannot say anything other than preparations are being made for the constitutional referendum,” said Dr Nottage, who has ministerial responsibility for referenda. “Draft bills have been prepared and are being looked at. There will not be a referendum until such time as they have educated the majority of the public and that process will begin shortly.”

Second time around

In 2002, the government, led by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, held a referendum that asked voters, among other things, if they supported the removal of constitutional discrimination against women.

The majority of people who voted in that poll said no to all five questions.

More than 60 per cent of people who voted said no to the first question on that ballot, which asked voters to remove discrimination against women, their children and spouses in the constitution.

The PLP, which was in opposition at the time and led by Mr Christie, urged the electorate to vote no citing a flawed process. However the PLP had earlier supported the constitutional bills when they were brought to the House of Assembly for debate and a vote.

The Bahamas Christian Council also protested the constitutional referendum and had admonished the government from rushing through the process.

As we rightly celebrate the country’s independence this week, we must be grateful for the blessings this country has received. However, I think we must also demand progression from our government and hold elected officials to their promises.

Since beginning his second term, the Prime Minister has waxed poetically about the need for reform and the importance of placing women on equal footing with men.

Last year, Mr Christie said that the government hopes to amend the citizenship provisions of the constitution “to achieve full equality between men and women with respect to the acquisition and transmission of Bahamian nationality.”

However we have heard such promises from Mr Christie before. It is left to be seen if the work of the Constitutional Commission will be in vain or if the government will get the job done and complete a process which should have been over and done with more than a decade ago.

• What do you think? Email comments to tmthompson@tribunemedia.net

Monday, July 7, 2014

Haitians and Bahamians of Haitian descent in The Bahamas have been oppressed for far too long

Our Haitian family


By JOHN CAREY
EYES WIDE SHUT
Nassau, The Bahamas


The Bahamas has a long history with Haiti. People like Stephen Dillet, who was born in Haiti, contributed to the development of the Bahamas on a national level. Haiti has been the pioneer for all people of color in this region as the first country to achieve independence in 1804.

Yet with all that it has contributed to the region, we seem to only know Haiti for its large numbers of illegal immigrants who make the treacherous journey to our islands. There needs to be a balance between having our borders secure while having legal migration from Haiti.

We have been playing with the idea of immigration reform for many years but have not addressed it in a satisfactory manner. We need to regularize Haitians who are here who have a legitimate claim to citizenship and residency. We must find a rational solution for all persons born in the Bahamas and we must treat all persons here humanely and with dignity.

The current administration’s policy on forging stronger economic ties with Haiti is an excellent approach to working towards a permanent solution for the illegal immigration problem. Many Bahamians would have a more open view of Haiti if they visited and saw the opportunity for business, entrepreneurship and the humanity of people who are all descendants from Africa, Europe or Asia – just as Bahamians are.

Haitians in The Bahamas have been oppressed for far too long. Those who are legally here face discrimination and Bahamians of Haitian descent often complain about how insensitive many in this country are toward them. I am not suggesting that we have a welcoming committee to wave through illegal migrants. I am saying that we must fix the immigration issue and be honest with ourselves if we expect our country to move forward and develop.

We have had many amnesty periods in our history with regard to illegal Haitian immigrants. As a continuation of what has been done before, why not do another amnesty period of 60 days where all illegal immigrants who have been in the Bahamas for 20 years or more and can prove that they have been here for that minimum time period, are put on a path to citizenship by being given permanent residency with the right to work?

Let’s face the reality: persons in that category are not going anywhere except to the United States of America if they can. However, by giving them residency, we can get more participation from those persons in our economy and regularize thousands of people who are here and who remain undocumented.

If we regularize and grant residency to those who have been here for 20 years or more, then we need to get more aggressive in enforcement of immigration laws. We must ensure that those who have not been here for the minimum 20 years are identified, processed and – unless they face the possibility of political persecution or other breaches of human rights – deported to their countries of origin.

As a result of the granting of residency to those who have been here for 20 years or more, their spouses and children could also be entitled to residency by virtue of marriage and/or being part of the immediate family. They may also qualify for residency on their own merit having been here for 20 years or more.

The policy that I am suggesting could apply to all illegal immigrants and therefore not be unique to one nationality because there are many other nationalities that are illegally present in the Bahamas. The Haitian population represents the largest block from one country.

The enforcement of our immigration law is critical to our national growth and development. The shanty towns must be demolished and those who do not qualify to be in this country must be processed to ensure the Bahamian taxpayer is not continuously stretched to the financial limit. This vexing immigration problem affects our educational system, healthcare system and other national resources.

The schools may be loaded with children who are illegal immigrants. The hospitals and clinics may be overburdened attending to the care of illegal immigrants and our other national resources are expended to attempt to manage this problem.

It should be noted that we are not the only country with an illegal immigration problem. Our closest neighbor, the United States of American, has millions of undocumented illegal immigrants and it is also a great strain and challenge for them to handle. I am not sure if the Republic of Cuba has a large illegal immigrant problem given their proximity to us.

If we address the illegal immigration problem correctly, our country can be better off as a result because there are thousands of persons here who want to contribute to our development and would if they were welcomed as residents and new citizens of the Bahamas. We cannot continue to ignore the ‘elephant in the room’ and hope that it will go away and things will get better. By default, there has been an underground society and economy that exists and will continue to thrive unless we have a bold and assertive paradigm shift to ensure that there is only one Bahamas. This one Bahamas includes all who are lawful residents and citizens whether by birth, or by a going through a process to become one of us.

How hypocritical of any Bahamian to want to keep a group of people in bondage. Those of you who use illegal immigrants to work for you, and/or who facilitate illegal immigration are traitors.

I am hopeful that the government will work to implement a few of these ideas to ensure that our illegal immigration problem is solved. With the addition of new boats to assist the Defence Force, we should have a higher detection rate and be able to reduce the number of illegal immigrants who get into the Bahamas. So while we work to eradicate illegal immigration let’s not discriminate against our Haitian family who are here to stay and a part of us.

 

• John Carey served as a member of parliament from 2002 to 2007.

July 04, 2014

thenassauguardian

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Bahamas’ numbers on foreign trade are dismal

Annual Report Reveals Dip In Trade Numbers


Jones Bahamas:



The Department of Statistics has released the 2013 Annual Foreign Trade Statistics report and according to the numbers released, the country’s numbers on foreign trade are dismal.

The report that presents data on the volume and nature of trade between The Bahamas and its trading partners estimated that during the year 2013 the value of commodities imported into The Bahamas totaled nearly $3.4 billion resulting in an eight percent decrease below the 2012 total of $3.6 billion.

“The largest contributor to imports which totaled some $726 million was mineral fuels accounting for 21.6 per cent of the imports,” the report noted.

“This category was followed closely by machinery and transport equipment which accounted for nearly 20 per cent or $657 million. Other categories that contributed significantly to total imports were manufactured goods that included wood, metal, steel or other construction materials, textiles and articles of clothing. This category accounted for 13.7 per cent or $460 million.”

In terms of exports the largest contributor to this sector consisted mainly of chemicals that include polystyrene and other plastic materials which accounted for 67.3 per cent of total domestic exports.

This category was closely followed by food and live animals which accounted for 25.2 per cent and included in this category are crawfish, rum and salt.

“More significantly though, of these two categories, three commodities combined, expansible polystyrene valued at $174.7 million, other compounds containing a quinoline or isoquinolinering’ at $61.6 million and spiny lobster tail frozen at $84.4 million accounted for some 88 per cent of total domestic exports,” it added. “Other exports included, mineral fuels at $237.8 million and machinery and transport equipment $95.9 million.”

Countries that The Bahamas trades with virtually remained the same with The United States maintaining its position as The Bahamas’ number one partner.

Even though The Bahamas did a significant amount of trade with Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan and Canada, the US still represented 81.8 per cent of total imports and about 83.6 per cent of total exports.

Oil products imported from Trinidad and Tobago, valued at nearly $80 million, accounted for 90.9 per cent of total imports.

“Significantly, trade between The Bahamas and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries was minimal as the region represented only 2.6 per cent of total imports and less than one quarter of one per cent of total exports,” it continued. “Pharmaceutical products imported from Barbados were valued at $1.0 million accounted for 1.1 per cent of CARICOM imports.”

July 02, 2014

Jones Bahamas