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.
In her presentation, Chauntez outlined legislative successes such as the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, The Fiscal Responsibility Bill and The Independent Director of Public Prosecutions. However, she also highlighted that The Bahamas is continuing to see significant challenges such as the slow and opaque implementation of FOIA, weak enforcement of public disclosure, and a seeming lack of political will regarding anti-corruption legislation such as The Integrity Commission and Ombudsman Bills among other indicators. The point Chauntez sought to drive home however, was the significant impact civil society has made and can make on these and other governance issues.
“As the only Bahamian attending, I felt it was important to stress the impact so many of our colleagues are making in the realm of governance, not just for the sake of representation but because at ORG we believe it has been a huge factor in the progress we have made thus far in the space. FOIA was largely driven by a consortium of 23 civil society organizations (CSOs); environmentalist advocacy efforts around the landfill and several major developments in the family islands have shed light on procurement, heads of agreements and public consultation practices; and actors such as Civil Society Bahamas and Citizens for a Better Bahamas continue to press for greater accountability from our leadership. CSOs are integral to improving governance and fighting corruption in any country. The IMF seemed very open to improving their relationship with CSOs, we wanted to reinforce this inclination and develop them as allies and eventually advocates for greater CSO involvement in policy making.”
The concerted push, reinforced by the other CSO attendees, resulted in a renewed commitment from the IMF to greater consultation and knowledge sharing with CSOs in the region says Chauntez.
“We concluded the meeting with IMF representatives committing to seeking ways for Caribbean CSOs to be better represented at its Annual and Spring meetings, held in concert with the World Bank, and to connecting CSOs with our country representatives. ORG was able to take advantage of this right away, with Bahamas’ annual IMF Mission visit being just two weeks after the conference. ORG was a CSO consultant and was not only able to advise on matters of fiscal transparency and responsibility, governance, and anti-corruption in Bahamas, but began the process of working with the IMF delegation on making Bahamas mission visits more open to CSOs. ORG was the only CSO consulted this year, but the delegation seemed keen to increase that number, and we look forward to closer collaboration with the sector in subsequent visits.”