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Ag Says New Bill 'For The Benefit Of Every Bahamian'

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

tsmith-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel, leader of government business in the Senate, said Bahamians will no longer sit by and watch others become wealthy from the resources of the Bahamas, but instead will also benefit.

He made the remarks during a brief Senate meeting Friday.

The Senate held the first reading of five Bills, including a Bill for an Act to Provide for the Protection and Sustainable Use of Biological Resources and Traditional Knowledge.

If passed it will allow Bahamians to reap the benefits from the successful exploitation of the country's flora and fauna.

Recently Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) engaged in a drilling exercise in Bahamian waters in search of oil.

Bahamians, including some government members, were up in arms about the way the deal locked Bahamians out of benefiting if oil were found.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, with Minister of Immigration and Investment, Elsworth Johnson, said the deal was concrete and there was nothing the FNM Administration could do about it. BPC, after drilling for a few weeks, said no commercially viable oil was found.

Just before the Bill was read for the first time, Senator Bethel said: "This Bill will for the first time in our history provide a means to fully regulate the exploitation of genetic and biological information being from the flora and fauna of the Bahamian eco-system throughout our country which has been utilized in the past by a bunch of cosmetic companies to make billions of dollars with not a cent coming to the Bahamian people.

“So this Bill, when we get to it, is for the benefit of every Bahamian. Every Bahamian will benefit from the wealth. These things are all written and controlled by the vested interest. You must only use it for this reason or for that reason. The devil is a liar! So I inserted in there that you can only use it for biological research or sustainability. People who have traditional knowledge need to be directly compensated.”

His comments were met with heckling from Senators opposite leading him to further explain the benefits.

“If you tell a man ‘strong bark’ gives you good energy and he goes and finds a biological thing and takes that and makes ‘Viagra’ or something like that and then boom makes billions, that community, in this case, The Bahamas should be directly compensated the same way the people who exploited the product,” he said.

“If they can keep it as their profit, we can keep the traditional knowledge as our profit. We have added some other things in there as well like payments to the Sovereign Wealth Fund for the benefit of every Bahamian. If the companies can make a profit, I don’t see why the Bahamian people cannot make a profit.”

Following this, Senator Fred Mitchell paid tribute to Bahamian-American actor, Sir Sydney Poitier who will celebrate his 94th birthday on Saturday.

The Senate adjourned to 10am Monday.

Comments

TalRussell 6 days, 6 hours ago

Sheep farming is where the AG Comrade Carl Wilshire's mind is goin'.
Long Island has all the makings of a sheep farming industry out island, and should openly be welcoming back home of all the Sheepruners that over the years has relocated to Nassau Town.

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ThisIsOurs 6 days, 3 hours ago

boy. They throwing all the populist nonsense against the wall now. They have no intention of sticking to any of it. When the foreign man say I need 95%of the profit they'll say thank you so much! then tell us how fortunate we are that the investor spending money in our country to pay foreign labourers to do the work.

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moncurcool 6 days, 1 hour ago

Following this, Senator Fred Mitchell paid tribute to Bahamian-American actor, Sir Sydney Poitier who will celebrate his 94th birthday on Saturday.

So the PLP is trying to play like they into Sidney Poitier? The same PLP that Poitier protested by leaving the Bahamas until the FNM became the government? It si true that those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it. Pure politics.

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DWW 5 days, 22 hours ago

Its funny cause they have the words sustainable and successful exploitation in the same sentence.

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DWW 5 days, 22 hours ago

Its also funny because Bourreria succulenta grows throughout Florida and the caribbean and the "traditional knowledge" is common to the entire caribbean region not just the Bahamas. Bethels comments are conceited and uninformed at best. Is this the best we can do for leaders of the country? Have any of them ever picked up a book other than the communist manifesto?

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tribanon 5 days, 21 hours ago

Most Bahamians would be surprised to learn that nearly all of our statute law comes about as a result of being promoted by the 'special interests' who stand to benefit the most from the new legislation. These 'special interests' through their legal representatives usually have a very heavy hand in the drafting of the new statute they want enacted to serve their interests.

And more often than not, the interests of the promoters of the new legislation are not aligned with, but rather diametrically opposed to, the interests of the Bahamian people. Nevertheless our legislators are only too willing to accommodate the statutory needs of these 'special interests' because of the financial and other rewards all too frequently showered on our corrupt political leaders or their political party.

Of course we also have the global alphabet soup agencies like the IMF, OECD, FATF, etc. to thank for jamming down our throats the many new statutes that they have a very heavy hand in drafting, most of which have a foreign purpose and agenda not at all aligned with the interests of the Bahamas and the Bahamian people. It's also well known that our legislators frequently enact legislation that has simply been copied lock, stock and barrel from other jurisdictions in our region of the world. Such copied legislation invariably is later found wanting in many respects and requires numerous amendments, often to the point of making it unwieldly, cumbersome and most difficult to read and interpret as regards intent.

In summary, for decades now our parliamentarians (with the help of the AG's Office) have been pretty much rubber stamping most of our new statute law without any real legislative process that ensures the interests of the Bahamian people are being respected and well served. I suspect this is very much the case for this latest new bill for an 'Act to Provide for the Protection and Sustainable Use of Biological Resources and Traditional Knowledge.'

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Topdude 4 days, 9 hours ago

Mr/Ms Tribanon have you considered running for political office. You appear to know everything about everything. Please do us a favor.

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licks2 3 days, 15 hours ago

A nation for sale. . .the legacy of LOP and all he trained. . .all for me baby. . .the heart and soul of the PLP party. . .and FNM/PLPs persons!! Take time to review all of our crappy deals where the Bahamian people get their "tails" handed to them for so much unfairness done on their behalf!! All deals EITHER THE UBP or PLP negotiated the deals! Check them out. . .now the FNM tend to come around and "leave-well-enough-alone". . .then everybody talks about "for the peoples them".

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KapunkleUp 5 days, 20 hours ago

So Bethel has admitted up to now the public has been shafted by the government. Well that's one step forward. Now time to take the mandatory two steps back.

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TalRussell 5 days, 9 hours ago

Doesn't the colony's AG Comrade Carl Wilshire, looks like em's much too Mr. Minnis weathered overdue to be in attendance for an Old Time Holy Ghost Pentecost Sunday Night Revival Service. You knows, Satan, gon' fight likes all hell to keep em's claim in place?

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licks2 3 days, 15 hours ago

Tal you have a big problem this election. . .your leader is a political duck that the Bahamian people can't waddle with! Even though the FNM leader seem to "gone deft" to his ministers and their incompetent crony leaderships have created (especially the department of education) . . .Mr. Davis placed many of swing voters in a bad position. . .Davis appears bad new as PM!! So unless someone like Alfred Sears is nominated to carry that party into election. . .your party don't stand a ghost of a chance!!

Mr. Davis political style is an affront to good political leadership. . . especially since he has to lead a group of "raiders" like classical PLP party members!! HE WILL DENY THAT HE DID SOMETHING EVEN AFTER WE ALL OBSERVED HIM DOING SO!!

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