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Darville, Grey Offer Encouragement to Local Government Practitioners

Both the Minister for Grand Bahama, Dr. Michael Darville, and the Minister for Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government, V. Alfred Gray, on Friday morning (September 28) reminded Local Government officials of the key role they play in the development and upkeep of their communities.

Likewise, he encouraged them to learn as much as they can, stating that knowledge is power. Mr. Darville and Mr. Gray’s comments came as they officially welcomed Local Government officials from the 33 District Councils that are currently meeting in Grand Bahama.

The two-day workshop, sponsored by the Bahamas Association of Local Government Authorities got underway Thursday with an address from the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government, V. Alfred Gray.

Day one had focused on matters relating to BALGA, while Day II focused on the Arial Programme and was coordinated by Dr. Hamid Ghany, a trainer from the University of the West Indies.

Minister Gray was on hand to declare the session open. He told participants that the Arial Programme was conceived and designed to support and strengthened local government associations at the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) national and regional levels.

Also, that the Arial Programme aims at improving dialogue between local government associations and national and international institutions in the development of programmes, and therefore, capacity building of national and regional local government associations is critical to this process in order to achieve the goals and objectives.

Mr. Gray reminded the group that to achieve the goals and objectives, Arial has organised training for local government associations funded by national and international organisations.  He recalled that two workshops were held recently in Port of Spain, Trinidad and that The Bahamas was represented at both and participated fully.

He told the gathering that most associations in the region are now registered and are now able to access grants from the European Commission and that at the completion of the one day workshop they would know how to properly write proposals for funding for various projects.

In addition, Minister Gray advised that Arial had organised training during its last workshop to improve communication, lobby and policy strategies.

The Minister also mentioned that Arial has published an information package on the Contonou Agreement with instructions for local government organisations on how to access European Union funding and a toolkit for local government associations to become stronger and better at identifying and responding to the needs of local government.

He reminded the gathering that while they come from the various islands that their needs are basically the same, only that some might require more because their island is less developed than others.

In his remarks to the gathering, the Minister for Grand Bahama, said it is his mandate to work synergistically with all government ministries, private sector partners and local government practitioners to ensure that the specific needs of the residents of Grand Bahamians are identified, addressed and that the economy of Grand Bahama is revitalised through public private partnerships and both local and foreign investments from Sweetings Cay to West End, Grand Bahama.

Dr. Darville told the delegates that it was truly an honour and pleasure to stand there and to bring brief opening remarks and to welcome them to the workshop for local government officials and practitioners from across the nations, who like himself and the staff of his ministry, all play an active role in the management and upkeep of their respective districts.

“Like the organisers of this workshop we at the Ministry of Grand Bahama believe that knowledge is power and I am certain that this workshop would help to sharpen your skills and introduce you to new innovative techniques to become more effective as local government practitioners.

“It is my firm belief that local government practitioners have and will continue to play a major role in the daily lives of residents across our archipelago.  Whether it’s through the provision and upkeep of community parks, overseeing of activities that cater to the development of our youth, liaising with private entities to create opportunities, or providing jobs for Bahamians, local government plays a pivotal role in the decentralisation of government and allows residents to be partners in the development of their island and micro manage the affairs of their communities,” he stated.

The Minister for Grand Bahama recalled that a few weeks ago there was much concern from local government employees here on Grand Bahama about becoming permanent and pensionable.

“Today I am pleased to say that the government is committed and I am certain that Minister Gray is taking the necessary steps to address this crucial matter,” he said.

Continuing, Dr Darville added that “it is my understanding that all groups represented here today, will be provided with information about the ARIAL Programme Aid and Partnership. I am convinced that this is necessary to ensure that local government in The Bahamas remains viable and local practitioners are aware of the opportunities available to them. Therefore, I would like to thank the African Caribbean Pacific and European Union Development for their financial support and assistance of local government in The Bahamas.

“In our Charter for Governance this government indicated our commitment to bring about necessary improvements for people serving in local government.

“Let me assure you all here today that the Ministry of Grand Bahama will work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture Marine Resources and Local Government to ensure that District Councils throughout Grand Bahama work together with all the relevant government agencies, island administrators because my ministry will be verifying on behalf of minister responsible that all rules, regulations, procedures and policies are adhered to.

“This will certainly improve the efficiency of service through the application of various provisions of general orders to define and improve the working conditions for all local government employees throughout The Bahamas.

“This administration is committed to providing the long overdue framework for uniformity in salary and benefits for all local government employees throughout the Family Islands.

“This administration intends to integrate the core objectives of our award winning Urban Renewal Programme with local government throughout the Family Islands, ensuring that many of the social ills affecting our nation like crime, poverty and unemployment, and simple neglect is combated at all fronts,” he stated.

By Simon Lewis
Bahamas Information Services

Posted in Politics

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