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Price controls ‘out window’ with WTO

The Bahamas Motor Dealers Association’s (BMDA) president yesterday expressed hope that WTO membership will result in price controls “going out the window” to be scrapped. 

Bank payment charges need ‘legitimate redress’

THE Central Bank yesterday appeared to concede that fees for payment services were too high and “require legitimate redress”, a view shared by 78 per cent of Bahamians.

Pensioners left with 30% in City Markets HQ sale

* Claim trustees ‘not acting in our best interest’ * Trustees retain 27% of $3m sale to AML Foods * And lawyer paid almost one-third of proceeds

City Markets pensioners have been “kept in the dark” over the $3 million sale of the plan’s main asset, with just 30 per cent of the proceeds seemingly left for their benefit.

Title questions raised over $3m AML deal

CITY Markets pension fund trustees have no legal standing to sell the defunct supermarket chain’s former head office to AML Foods for $3 million, it was alleged yesterday.

BPL pledges: You’ll have ‘soft landing’ on extra charge

BAHAMAS Power & Light’s (BPL) chairman yesterday pledged to make “the landing as soft as possible” for Bahamian consumers when it adds a debt servicing charge to their bills.

Insurers ‘not oblivious’ to Bahamas sanctions threat

THE insurance industry “is not oblivious” to the need for the Bahamas to comply with global anti-financial crime standards and avoid sanctions, its chairman said yesterday.

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‘Get out of dark ages’, Gov’t and unions told

* Reformer urges end to worker benefits focus * Calls for more productivity ‘to lift GDP growth’ * And wants wages ‘held’ at current levels

The Department of Labour must “get out of the dark ages” and focus on improved worker productivity if the Bahamas is to enjoy higher GDP growth, a governance reformer urged yesterday. Robert Myers, a principal with the Organisation for Responsible Governance (ORG), told Tribune Business that the Labour Department and trade unions needed to stop pushing for increased worker benefits “if we are to lift ourselves out of this socio-economic recession”. Arguing that both were still “singing the same old song”, Mr Myers called for wages and benefits to be “held” at present levels until the Bahamian economy generated improved GDP growth rates.

Bahamian insurer ‘bolstered’ after hurricane losses

* Security and General in Q4 capital injection * Performance ‘marginal’, ‘below average’ * Rival Summit also gets top ratings

A MAJOR Bahamian insurer has seen its balance sheet “bolstered” by its parent as a result of recent hurricane-related losses. A. M. Best, the insurance rating agency, said Security and General Insurance Company had received a fourth quarter capital injection from its Bermuda-based owner following recent storm payouts. The rating agency, which reaffirmed the Bahamian property and casualty insurer’s creditworthiness, provided few details and its top executive, Marlon Graham, did not return Tribune Business’s voice mail message yesterday seeking comment.

Gov’t ‘won’t ruin’ economy revival with labour laws

* Minister reassures private sector on changes * No move on ‘controversial’ issues yet * Will only proceed if business/union ‘consensus’

THE Government “will not do anything to ruin” efforts to revive the Bahamian economy, a Cabinet Minister pledged yesterday, as he sought to reassure businesses over labour law reforms. Dion Foulkes, the Minister of Labour, told Tribune Business that the Minnis administration had yet to move on “contentious” election commitments to raise the 12-year redundancy pay ‘cap’ and increase the notice period for terminated employees.

AML chief: ‘Size of pie yet to be seen’

* Uncertainties over Xmas spending * Hopes December ‘uptick’ will persist  * All retailers see October/November fall-off

BISX-listed AML Foods has warned that “the size of the pie” remains unknown when it comes to Bahamian consumer spending this Christmas. Gavin Watchorn, the group’s president and chief executive, told Tribune Business that while it was “very confident” of gaining its due share, the extent of holiday expenditure was difficult to predict given continued economic uncertainty and fragile confidence.

DPM: Bahamas must ‘prove’ itself to S&P

* ‘Not at all’ upset nation still ‘junk’ * Blames former Govt’s failure to deliver * Nation has 12-24 months to execute

The Government must “prove” it can deliver on its fiscal and economic turnaround strategy, the Deputy Prime Minister admitted yesterday, after Standard & Poor’s (S&P) kept the Bahamas at ‘junk’ status. K P Turnquest told Tribune Business he was “not at all” disappointed at the outcome of S&P’s annual review of the Bahamas’ sovereign creditworthiness, despite having previously expressed optimism that the Government could make the case to be upgraded to ‘investment grade’ status.

Development Bank fund ‘sinking’: Covers 1/3 of $46m bonds

* Just 28.4% of loans ‘performing’ * Accumulated losses over $60m * Solvency deficiency at $31.31m

THE Bahamas Development Bank’s (BDB) ‘sinking fund’ covered just one-third of its $46 million outstanding bond debt at year-end 2016, with only 28.4 per cent of its loans ‘performing’. The BDB’s 2016 financial statements, tabled in the House of Assembly in Wednesday by the Prime Minister, reveal the parlous state of another state-owned enterprise (SOE) that has racked up more than $60 million in losses for the Bahamian taxpayer during its 43-year existence.

‘No cause for celebration’ over S&P breathing room

* Bahamas ‘still has to climb out of hole’ * But Chamber chief ‘fully expects’ 2018 upgrade * Many Bahamians don’t realise reform ‘gravity’

PRIVATE sector executives yesterday said the Bahamas has “no cause for celebration yet” after Standard & Poor’s (S&P) elected not to further downgrade its sovereign creditworthiness.

S&P: Gov’ts fiscal, economic reforms ‘will take time’ to work

* 1.5% average growth forecast lower than IMF’s * Grand Lucayan closure takes out 7% of rooms * Debt to rise through 2020 to 52% of GDP

THE Government’s fiscal and economic reforms will take time to “pay dividends”, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) warned yesterday, as it took a more ‘bearish’ view of the Bahamas’ growth prospects. The rating agency, in its latest Bahamas country assessment, expressed confidence that the Minnis administration’s fiscal reforms will “arrest the deterioration” in the Government’s deficit and the national debt.

Gaming Board lacks ‘oversight structure’ for numbers houses

* Minister: Changes to make regulator ‘more relevant’ * Gaming Board will ‘look very different’ in five years * ‘92,000 didn’t vote for us to maintain status quo’

RECENT downsizings are intended to make the Gaming Board “more relevant” and help it cope with the “seismic changes” created by web shops, a Cabinet minister said yesterday. Dionisio D’Aguilar, who has ministerial responsibility for gaming, told Tribune Business that the industry regulator will “look extremely different from the Gaming Board of today within five years”.

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Ex-Miss Bahamas accuses Tourism on copyright, $130k

* Khiara Sherman claims song used with no say-so * Copyright infringed in promoting Bahamas to guests * And Ministry ‘breached’ three-year employment deal

A former Miss Bahamas Universe winner-turned-songstress is suing the Ministry of Tourism for allegedly breaching a $130,000 employment contract and violating her copyright. Khiara Sherman, who once represented the Bahamas at the global pageant then-controlled by US president, Donald Trump, is claiming the Ministry failed to obtain permission to use her song, Fly Away With Me, in its multi-million dollar marketing campaigns.

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Bahamas ‘must reengineer economy faster than ever’

* QC: 2018 will ‘set economy for 20 years’ * Warns reform pace may be bewildering * Warns of tax, exchange control ‘recalibrating’

THE Bahamas faces having to “substantially reengineer its economy at a much faster pace than ever before” to escape global ‘blacklists’, a prominent QC warned yesterday. Brian Moree QC, senior partner at McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes, told Tribune Business that this nation’s response to the European Union/OECD initiatives in 2018 “will determine the future of the economy” for possibly the next 20 years.

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‘Wild Wild West’ web shop oversight hits Gaming Board

* AG: ‘Difficulty’ undermines ‘blue ribbon’ status * Gov’t ‘seconding’ anti-money launder specialists * Will ‘address forthwith’ web shop money transfers

THE Gaming Board’s “blue ribbon” reputation has been hurt by taking on regulation of the “Wild Wild West” web shop sector, the Attorney General said yesterday. Carl Bethel QC told Tribune Business that the Government was now seconding more experienced anti-money laundering regulators from other agencies to the Gaming Board in a bid to get to grips with a sector deemed “high risk”.

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Bahamas ‘shooting ourselves in foot’ on insurance regulation

* Bahamas ‘going beyond’ AML standard * AG: ‘We’ll give general insurers one year’ * Fears captive revival undermined

FEARS were raised again yesterday that the Bahamas could be “shooting ourselves in the foot” by including general and captive insurers within its anti-money laundering regime. Emmanuel Komolafe, the Bahamas Insurance Association’s (BIA) chairman, urged the Government to provide the “benchmarking” studies and data to support its decision to define both market segments as financial institutions under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act (FTRA).

Bahamas faces major tax, exchange control shake-up

The Bahamas may have to completely overhaul its corporate and taxation structure to escape European Union/OECD ‘blacklisting’ threats, the Attorney General revealed yesterday.