NASSAU, The Bahamas — The Local Government for a 21st century Bahamas must be able to understand, be willing to participate and be prepared to function within a global economy, Minister of State in the Ministry of Lands and Local Government the Hon Byran Woodside said.
Speaking at the opening of the Annual Local Government Leadership Workshop for Family Island Administrators, Monday, November 15, Mr Woodside said the country is a member of a global market and every arm of government must be cognisant of the impact of globalisation on the economy and people of The Bahamas.
He told the Family Island Administrators that they must be fully prepared to assist local communities in managing the effects of globalisation, as it is not going away. Mr Woodside added that Local Government, as it is constituted today, seeks to devolve power from the Administrators as the Central Government’s agents, and instead turn authority to the local councils.
“However,” he said, “over the past 14 years, this system of governance has been challenged by the relationship between the role of the Family Island Administrator and that of the elected local officials.
“In addition, there have been a number of incidences where chief councillors, councils and town committees have made questionable decisions that have proven not to be financially or developmentally sound and thus not in the best interest of the communities which they serve.”
Mr Woodside explained that to build the capacity of the administrators, this year’s theme “Fiscal Discipline and Efficient Service in a Global Economy” will be presented during the four-day workshop to equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to strengthen their leadership role within the various districts. There are several objectives of this year’s workshop.
The workshop is intended to help the administrators gain an understanding of new and amended legislation impacting upon the delivery of services in the Family Islands. It is intended to also equip the administrators with the knowledge and skills necessary to strengthen their administration of the various democratic processes, thereby allowing them to provide more efficient service in a contracting economy.
It is also designed to make the administrators aware of the role of international and local agencies in energising economic development; and to facilitate the exchange of information ideas and discussions among the practising officials. In addition, the workshop will assist the Administrators in understanding their new role as principle revenue officers, developmental leaders and strategic visionaries.
Mr Woodside noted that the government will continue to hold workshops to bring government closer to the people.
“These interventions provide the opportunity for other senior central government public officers and stakeholders to have constructive dialogue and exchanges with you,” he said.
“The overall goal would be to not only enhance our development of Local Government in the Family Islands, but also to guide your learning about development issues.
“Insights in legislations and comprehension into the real-world context that The Bahamas face in real-time challenges and opportunities in the global economy,” Mr Woodside said.
By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services