As ORG calls for more open and transparent governance, increased citizen participation and greater collaboration among civil society, government, and the private sector in, sometimes it can feel that we are alone. However, as Executive Director Matt Aubry, learned at the Open Government Partnership Summit, in Ottawa, Canada in late May, our calls for positive, inclusive and sustainable reforms to governance echo the majority around the world.
This year, ORG was selected to attend The Summit, which brought together over 2,000 representatives of government and civil society to discuss ways to leverage open government initiatives and build stronger, more accountable, and responsive democracies. The Open Government Partnership(OGP) is an international organization of reformers inside and outside of government, working to transform how government serves its citizens and includes 79 member countries. Over the past years, the Organization for Responsible Government has used many of the resources and research created by the OGP in the development of our positive reform initiatives.
Gearing up for the upcoming budget debate, The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) convened key players in government, civil society and the private sector at an event last month to debut ORG’s prototype Fiscal Transparency Portal and Fiscal Literacy Campaign: Be Clear Bahamas. The governance, economic development and education focused organization has partnered with The United States Embassy to tackle fiscal transparency and literacy and citizen participation in the budget process.
Presenting to the International Monetary Fund Seminar with Civil Society in Kingston, Jamaica, local governance reformer The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) has continued to press for greater support of civil society and participatory governance as a path accountability and transparency.
ORG’s Communications Coordinator Chauntez Dillet-Wilson, was selected to represent Bahamian Civil Society at the IMF seminar in Kingston in March to deliver an overview of the status and factors for success in strengthening governance, improving transparency and fighting corruption within The Bahamas. The seminar aimed to encourage closer ties between the IMF and civil society organizations in the region and generate greater understanding of the role of the IMF in The Caribbean. Focused on climate change, disaster-relief, governance and corruption, the intimate session had 20 attendees comprised of IMF, government, and CSO representatives from seven countries.
As noted in The Inter-American Development Bank’s report: “Skills for Current and Future Jobs in The Bahamas”, a significant gap exists between the labour needs in The Bahamas and the skills of the local workforce. The report states that workforce productivity has continuously decreased since the turn of the millennium, and 1 in 4 employers cite a lack of appropriate skills in the labour force as the leading factor.
Despite efforts to address this need area, there persists a regular struggle by Bahamian employers to find sufficient local staff with the necessary specific, technical, and soft skills. In certain Industries, this creates an uneven dependence on foreign talent creating tension between labour and immigration policies and the functional practices necessary for local industries to thrive. Ultimately, the negative impact of this gap has contributed to limited private sector growth and subsequently minimal economic development.
Recognizing that addressing workforce productivity lies at the heart of economic development, The Ministry of Labour held the first-ever National Symposium on Skills Developments titled “Forging our Future: Assessing and Analyzing the Skills Gap in The Bahamas” on September 17th at The National Training Agency.
The concept of a National Symposium for Skills Development was proposed to the National Committee or Industry Education & Skills Training, which was assembled in April 2018 to address the skills gap, by The Organization for Responsible Government (ORG) as a potential endeavour to identify and remedy the training gaps contributing to skills gaps in The Bahamas. The concept was adopted by the National Committee, with funding and resources coming from The Ministry of Labour, ORG and The National Training Agency.
By: Toby Hayes
The Organization for Responsible Governance
Do you remember being asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”? It was a question that instilled a sense of excitement, wonder, and hope. All things seemed possible. For many young Bahamians, though, the spectrum of opportunities slowly contracts and diminishes for one sole reason: education. According to Ministry of Education statistics, from 2015-2017 nearly half of the students that take the BJC don’t go on to take the BGCSE and, of those that do, less than 40% achieve a grade of C or above.
Whilst standardized testing at the primary school level, such as the GLAT, show more promising results, the Minister of Education stated in his 2017 budget contribution that primary level teachers “routinely lament” the gaps in literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills in young students, especially those who have not had the benefit of pre-primary education.
Today in The House of Assembly The much awaited Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2017 was opened for debate. The Bill establishes an Independent Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Minister of State for Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson explained that The Bill would confer responsibility of the prosecution to the sole care of the DPP and give that office a degree of autonomy from the influence of the Attorney General (AG). Though the AG would still be able to give instruction to the DPP in certain circumstances, instructions must be in writing and signed.
Minister Johnson argued that the separation of these offices would reduce the frequency of nolle presequi's - a controversial order allowing the AG to stop prosecution of cases without opposition. Giving the DPP autonomy helps to free the justice process from political influence.
Leader of the Opposition Phillip "Brave" Davis pointed out that as long as the AG can give directions to the DPP on such a broad basis, not much is changed from the current system and the office is not truly independent. He urged the government narrow the scope of offenses in which the AG can intervene.
What do you think? The Organization for Responsible Governance will be submitting recommendations for amendments to the Office of the Attorney General and Members of Parliament. Read The Bill and send your feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Interception of Communications Bill and the National Intelligence Agency Bill were tabled in the House of Assembly last week. The bills are new versions of laws drafted in the last administration and have received backlash from civil society groups for their controversial content and for being tabled without any prior consultation.
Public consultation is crucial to creating effective laws and policies that respond to the needs of citizens. Broadening the number of people who review a bill not only creates better laws, it reduces the cost of implementation and enforcement by getting the buy-in of the public.
In a meeting with The Organization for Responsible Governance, Our Carmicheal, The National L.E.A.D. Institute, and We March, The Attorney General and his team stated their intentions to host an open consultation process on both bills before parliamentary debate, promising an information campaign over multiple platforms and public forums on New Providence and Grand Bahama.
To view or download the bills click the icons below:
Minister of Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson tabled the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 last week, which would establish an independent Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and allegedly free that department from the influence of the Attorney General and other cabinet positions.
A Director of Public Prosecutions that is free from political or other bias is essential to the fair and equitable carry out of justice and to the rule of law in The Bahamas. It is important that we get this bill right.
We encourage you to take a look for yourself to ensure The Bill meets the mark, gives true independence, and affords the DPP the power and tools he or she needs to carry out justice. The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) will be consolidating and submitting recommendations for The Bill to Members of Parliament for consideration and review. Please see the Bill at the link below and send any recommendations to email@example.com.
Please see the Bill at the link below and send any recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BREAKING: BPL PowerSecure Contract Terminated
Minister of Works Desmond Bannister tabled his much awaited Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) Business plan which outlined strategies to make the national energy provider more efficient and cost-effective. He announced that BPL and the Bahamian government have amicably severed their contract with PowerSecure, the Southern Company subsidiary charged with restructuring the utility provider. The Minister also stated that BPL/BEC breached public procurement protocol in several contracts over the last administration and a number of conflicts of interest are also suspected. A report on these will be tabled when the Royal Bahamas Police Force completes its investigation.
The Minister's contribution also outlined plans to reduce staff by 30%. The redundancy program will commence next month.