Nearly a week after hundreds of nurses voted in a strike poll, The Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) has yet to secure the certification needed to push ahead with strike action.
Director of Labour, John Pinder confirmed that much to the Journal, noting that this was due to a typographical error on his office’s part, but it is being cleared up.
He said nurses should have the certificate in hand by Tuesday, once the Minister responsible, Dion Foulkes, has signed off.
Since day one, nurses have pushed against a new shift system, going as far as to threaten strike action.
The new shift was set to take effect yesterday.
However, Public Hospital’s Authority (PHA) officials have deferred that date.
The Nurses voted in their majority to strike on two occasions. In the first strike vote, the Ministry of Labour also did not issue a certificate due to a technicality.
A weeklong visit to The Bahamas ended with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) giving a positive assessment of the local economy.
Having discussed the country’s outlooks and risks, financial developments and sectors, the IMF team concluded that the Bahamian economy continues to recover, with real GDP growth projected to reach 2.3 percent in 2018 and 2.1 percent in 2019.
This growth is said to be driven by an increase in tourist arrivals, paired with an expansion of hotel room and airlift capacity and against the backdrop of the continued expansion of the U.S. economy.
It calls then for maintaining strong fiscal and financial policies to bolster resilience and build buffers should external conditions become less favorable, and for advancing reforms to achieve more inclusive growth over the medium term.
The IMF finds the enactment of the fiscal responsibility law a welcome development as is the plan to establish a disaster relief fund.
The government was further patted on the back for narrowing the fiscal deficit from 5.5 per cent of GDP in the 2017 fiscal year to an estimated 3.3 per cent in fiscal year 2018.
There’s a commitment for further fiscal consolidation, targeting an overall deficit of 1.8 percent of GDP.
Further, the team said it welcomed the government’s transparent recognition of accumulated arrears and the budgetary provisions to clearing them, as well as the plans to put in place robust expenditure control systems.
Banks were also given high marks for making progress towards improving asset quality.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K. Peter Turnquest views the IMF’s positive assessment as an indication that the government’s policies are starting to pay a dividend and that it is pleased to see its efforts are being recognized by the IMF and others.
He however acknowledges that the economic recovery is still not as buoyant as the government would like to see it.
In fact in a statement, he admits it has not been easy to cut the fiscal deficit by some 37 per cent in one year – down from $661 million to $415 million – but that the simple truth is that the government must stay the course as there is a tremendous amount of work left to do to quicken and strengthen the ongoing recovery and to ensure long term fiscal stability and economic resilience.
The government’s expected to bring several new pieces of legislation in the coming months – public procurement legislation, public financial management legislation and public debt management legislation.
Opposition Senator Jobeth Coleby-Davis says the compendium of financial bills of the government were not drafted in the best interest of the country. Making her contribution on the bills in the Senate yesterday, she submitted that the governing Free National Movement is not thinking of the Bahamian, but is instead an outright compliance to requests of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ( OECD) .
“I know that there is a need to act in an effort to avoid blacklisting and protect the financial services.
“I’m also aware that around the Caribbean these bills are being considered, debated and legislated. We’ve been here before and I’m quite certain this is not the end where we’ve had threats from the European Union or the OECD nation. However, one must ask at what point will The Bahamas draw the line to ensure adequate protection of the country’s second largest industry.
“We must be careful not to tow the line without making some hard and fast decisions to protect the Financial Services Industry,” Mrs. Coleby-Davis said.
“Some are of the belief that the OECD has an ulterior motive to destabilize our Offshore Centers in an effort to redirect businesses to their shores. And I believe this would be my second time contributing to this sort of legislation regarding changes to the legislation to satisfy the OECD’s requests,” she said.
Mrs. Coleby-Davis referencing an earlier contribution said she made, queried the seemingly outright compliance with the OECD requests “with no sort of push back”, adding that there must be a greater form of protection by the government.
“While there is an important requirement to act to avoid blacklisting, the suggested pieces of legislation are not, in my opinion, drafted to the best of our ability as a country,” Mrs. Coleby-Davis said.
Just last week the House of Assembly passed the Compendium of Bills, which essentially seek to send the message that The Bahamas is open for legitimate business, thereby avoiding being named on the European Union’s blacklist scheduled to be revealed in January 2019.
Mrs. Coleby-Davis stressed however, that she could not support the bill in its current state, and with focus on the Removal of Preferential Exemptions Bill, stated that if the oppositions amendments are considered and inserted into the bill she could then support.
However, Senator Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson during her contribution, stressed the need for the bills to be passed, as not doing so could cause reputational harm to The Bahamas that could concern its investors.
The Compendium of Bills include: The Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Bill, the Removal of Preferential Exemptions Bill, the Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill, the Penal Code (amendment) Bill and the Non-profit Organizations Bill.
The Minister of Works, Desmond Bannister yesterday called a statement
made in a voice note circulated in social media by former PLP Member of Parliament, Mr. V. Alfred Gray, “untrue and entirely without foundation.”
In a statement to the media yesterday, the Minister said, “in his very irresponsible statement, Mr. Gray alleges that the Government has proposed a Contractors Association Bill for Parliament; and in his words that the Ministry of Works is “putting together who can qualify for contractors and who can’t, and you can only qualify if you have a four storey building under your contractor’s belt.”
He said, “for those like Mr. Gray who may have conveniently forgotten, or who may have been asleep in Parliament, the Construction Contractors Act was passed under the blundering and disastrous PLP administration. The restrictions contained in the Bill were voted on and passed unanimously by Mr. Gray and his colleagues.
“The untrue allegations voiced by Mr. Gray in his statement about the current administration are figments of the imagination of a failed candidate who one year after being dismissed by the people appears to have developed a severe case of Parliamentary amnesia and foot in mouth disease,” said Mr. Bannister.
He said, “for the record, there is no government that can match the record of support that the Free National Movement has provided for small contractors.”
The Maynard family is mourning the death of their matriarch, Zoe Lady Maynard.
Lady Maynard died yesterday morning at the age of 92.
In a statement, her children – Dr. Peter Maynard, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, David and Clement T. Maynard III – said they were fortunate to have wonderful parents, who loved the lord, treasured family and friends and taught them by their stellar example.
“Mummy lived a very full life,” read the statement.
“We are thankful, she is now at peace with daddy, Julian, her parents, sister and her other loved ones who went before.”
Equally saddened by her passing is the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), whose leader, Philip Davis lauded Lady Maynard as a pillar of strength, the wind beneath Sir Clement’s wings.
The party he said, thanks her for her selflessness in her support role in sharing Sir Clem with the PLP, appreciative of the inherent associated challenges and the toll public life places on family life.
In her own right, she was a freedom fighter, particularly for women’s rights and in the arts.
A Mass of Resurrection to celebrate her life will be held this Wednesday at Saint Matthews Anglican Church on Shirley Street beginning at 3pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of Zoe Lady Maynard to Abilities Unlimited of the Bahamas Humane Society.