IAAF World Relays: Unanswered Questions

The recent news that the Government of The Bahamas has cancelled the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2019 was met with much dismay and disappointment by several Bahamians and sports enthusiasts. This announcement sent shock waves across the nation and the global sports community with just 10 months before the event was scheduled to take place.

As Bahamians sought to obtain more details on the rationale for the cancellation, it was reported that the country’s financial challenges is the motivation for the Government’s decision. This is despite increases in budget allocations to projects with unquantifiable benefits and the lack of transparency on government finances.

The public discourse regarding the economic benefits obtained from the previous three versions of this global event is noteworthy. We concur that cost-benefit analyses ought to be conducted for any project, event or initiative funded by taxpayers. In this instance, seeing that the Government has access to financial reports including expenditure and revenue on the previous three events, these reports should be released to the public. It would have been irresponsible for the Government to make the decision to cancel the event without the benefit of a detailed economic impact analysis.

It is common knowledge that the IAAF World Relays attracted world class athletes, their families and sport fans to our nation. It provided significant exposure for The Bahamas as a tourist destination while highlighting our culture, artists and athletes before a global audience. This level of exposure and goodwill cannot be easily quantified and should not be underestimated.

Bahamians are questioning the prudence of this decision with a view to ascertaining whether it was a wise one or a magnificent display of a lack of vision. Could the event have been successfully hosted by The Bahamas with collaboration with the private sector via Public Private Partnership and sponsorships? Did we explore opportunities for international and domestic businesses to defray some of the costs associated with this event? Is 10 months sufficient notice to the IAAF to find an alternative country to successfully host this event? Has the Government identified or negotiated a replacement event of similar caliber?

At this juncture in our nation’s history, we cannot afford a deficit of innovation, creativity and strategic planning. We must learn to do more with less and employ the brilliant minds of all Bahamians for the building of our country. The Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium should be used as a magnet for world class sporting events and to enhance our sports tourism product.

On behalf of the Bahamian people, the Democratic National Alliance wishes to express gratitude to the various individuals and sport ambassadors that worked tirelessly to bring the IAAF World Relays to The Bahamas and put our nation on the global sports calendar. This opportunity should not be squandered or taken for granted. We are hopeful that the Government’s decision will not negatively impact the reputation of The Bahamas or strain our relationship with the IAAF as well as the local and international sports community.

Arinthia S. Komolafe
Deputy Leader
Democratic National Alliance

Re: Labour Day Tragedy

We are deeply saddened by the national tragedy that unraveled during the Labour Day Parade earlier today. It is indeed with a heavy heart that we join the rest of the nation in mourning the loss of lives at an event that highlights the struggles, strength, and resilience of the labour movement.

The important role of the labour movement in our journey to nationhood and independence cannot be denied. However, more important is the indomitable spirit of the Bahamian people which continues to be the driving force for the success of our commonwealth. It is this rich legacy, tradition, and ethos that the victims of this unfortunate incident came out to honor and celebrate today. We salute their courage, sacrifice, and dedication.

Our condolences go out to the families, loved ones and friends of those that lost their lives in this tragic event. Please rest assured that our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. We pray for God’s grace, healing, and strength for those that were injured in the accident. May they feel the warmth of God’s embrace and be comforted on their way to recovery.

May the souls of the dearly departed rest in peace.

Arinthia S. Komolafe
Deputy Leader, Democratic National Alliance

EU Grey List: Welcomed but Not Out of Woods

• We must look beyond December 2018
• Bahamian people deserve to know commitments made to EU
• Government must deliver on commitments
• Prudent decisions and proper consultation essential

The news that The Bahamas has been removed from the European Union’s (EU) list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions is welcomed. According to a press release issued earlier today, The Bahamas has been moved from Annex 1 (blacklist) to Annex II (grey list) by the EU.

While this is a notable development, we are not out of the woods yet and there is much work to be done to ensure that The Bahamas is totally removed from any adverse listing published by the EU. This is bearing in mind that countries on the grey list can be moved back to the blacklist if they fail to honor their commitments.

The rationale for the addition of The Bahamas to the grey list is that commitments have been made by The Bahamas at a high political level to remedy EU concerns. It is imperative that these commitments are shared with the Bahamian people in the spirit of transparency and accountability. It is noteworthy to state that several jurisdictions have consented to the publication of their commitment letters on the EU’s website thereby providing their people with access to commitments made on their behalf.

The clock is now ticking as the December 31, 2018 deadline for delivering on our commitments to the EU is fast approaching. We are hopeful that this impending deadline will not result in rushed or imprudent decisions and the ditching of proper consultation with stakeholders and the Bahamian people. In the days ahead, the Bahamian people will be looking to the Government to lay out its comprehensive plan to ensure our removal from the EU grey list. This should include the approach to be taken in addressing the fair taxation criterion and clarify the framework for rectifying the economic substance and ring fencing issues identified.

We implore the Government to look beyond the upcoming deadline and develop a comprehensive Financial Services Growth Action Plan (FSGAP) which will reposition The Bahamas as a premier international financial centre. Our focus must extend beyond removal from blacklists and compliance with international standards to strategic planning for the creation of a thriving financial services industry. The global landscape for financial services has changed and continues to evolve; The Bahamas cannot afford to be left behind.

The international pressures we face present us with a unique opportunity to re-imagine, reform, retool and rebrand our financial services industry. We must look at the bigger picture and the Government must not be myopic in its responses. The ultimate objective must be to place the interests of the Bahamian people ahead of all other interests. We stand ready to assist the Government in a non-partisan effort in the national interest.

Arinthia S. Komolafe
Deputy Leader, Democratic National Alliance