Cabinet approves appointment of Local Government Advisory Committee of New Providence

Thu, Apr 26th 2018, 04:23 PM

The Cabinet of The Bahamas has approved the appointment of an Advisory Committee for the introduction of Local Government in New Providence.

The Committee met for the first time on Wednesday, April 18 (2018) in the Conference Room at the Ministry of Transport and Local Government at which time they received their charge from Minister of Transport and Local Government, the Hon. Frankie Campbell.

Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Anthony Newbold, said the Committee is comprised of a “good cross-section” of professionals from varying backgrounds, during his weekly press briefing.

“At that meeting, Minister Campbell emphasized the importance of taking a non-partisan approach [in] their deliberations, advising that the expectation of the Government was demonstrated in the appointment of Senator, the Hon. Raynard Henfield as Chairman of that committee.

“Minister Campbell also pointed out that the Leader of the Opposition was invited to appoint a representative, which he did, in the person of Mr. Philip Smith, former Member of Parliament and Diplomat.

“In his Charge, Minister Campbell highlighted the need for the committee to take a very good look at the current system in the Family Islands and to recommend how it can be improved.”

Press Secretary Newbold said preliminary studies were conducted to assess the feasibility of introducing some form of municipal governance in New Providence. The preliminary studies were conducted through an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-sponsored project. A number of public and private agencies were also engaged in the exercise.

“Of importance, I note that there were eight options proposed for New Providence by the IDB Study which were reviewed and discussed by the Committee. These include the introduction of Local Government in New Providence in a way that is similar to the system in the Family Islands; introduce a “strong Local Government” at a District Level in New Providence with substantial devolution of power from the Central Government and introduce a “Community Empowerment System” involving local organizations.

Other options included the introduction of “Stronger Local Service Offices” at the constituency level built around Members of Parliament constituencies; the introduction of “Government Office for Nassau/New Providence” with a coordinating “Minister for New Providence” and a New Providence Development Board; the introduction of an island-wide City Government to deal with island-wide matters; the introduction of a “Combined Authority” of Mayors and Ministers to oversee island-wide development issues and the introduction of an “Island/Urban Development Agency” with a specific charter of responsibilities and budget for coordination, execution and investment in urban infrastructures in New Providence.

“The idea is to have Local Government in New Providence in time for the next General Elections in 2022,” Press Secretary Newbold said.

The Press Secretary noted that members of the Committee also reviewed “an aggressive road map” to achieving its objectives with a view to providing Cabinet with a Progress Report by the end of August 2018, and necessary public consultation thereafter.

The Members of the Advisory Committee are as follows: Senator, the Hon. Raynard Henfield (Chairman); Cephas Cooper (Vice-Chairman & Director of Local Government); Joel Lewis (Acting Undersecretary Ministry of Transport and Local Government); Dr. Nicola Virgil-Rolle (Director, Economic Development and Planning Unit, Office of the Prime Minister); Leron Neely (Ministry of Finance); Karen Dorsett and Lenette King (Office of the Attorney-General); Diane Holowesko-Dunkley (Town Planning Committee); Philip Turner (Parliamentary Registrar), in addition to a Representative from the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce.

Other members include: Matthew Aubry (Organization for Responsible Government); Roderick Pinder (Bahamas Association of Local Government Authorities); Dr. Nicolette Bethel (University of The Bahamas); Gadville McDonald (National Training Agency); Dwight Strachan (Guardian Radio); Valentino Brown (Hay Street Movement for Change); Errol Bethel (former Parliamentary Commissioner); Ed Fields (Downtown Nassau Partnership), and Brett Lashley (Programme Manager, Economic Development and Planning Unit, Office of the Prime Minister).

By Matt Maura

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