Campaign for The Bahamas E-Newsleter: Issue 1
October 21, 2016
As a supporter of The Organization for Responsible Governance we invite you to read ORG's Campaign for The Bahamas e-newsletter, to learn about ORG's efforts and how you can play an important role in building a brighter future for The Bahamas. Your voice matters, so please get informed and get involved!
OPEN AND ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNANCE - IS BAHAMAS HITTING THE MARK?
Responsible, open and accountable governance is critical for societies to create opportunity and socioeconomic stability for their citizens. Is the Bahamas hitting the mark? The core problems facing the Bahamas - crime, poor education, unemployment, and a flagging economy amongst others - stem from a systemic break down in leadership and governance in the country.
Organization for Responsible Governance recognizes Good Governance as essential for The Bahamas to address all other social issues from crime, to education, to economic prosperity. This can be the bedrock of sustainable national development and the backbone of a strong democracy and we are committed to driving better governance for the benefit of all.
The Bahamas is at a critical point. The status quo has failed the nation and created massive inefficiencies and an ineffective government. The nation is heavily in-debt, uncompetitive even in our largest sectors, and expensive to live in. We, as a people, must decide whether to continue as we are or create the change that we want to see. If Bahamians stand united we can significantly change the way the country and political parties are governed and led. Open and accountable governance provides opportunity for ALL citizens and not just the favored few. Bahamians must demand higher standards and better leadership for a brighter Bahamas, anything less is unacceptable.
Improved governance requires cooperation between government and citizens. The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) launched The Campaign for the Bahamas to focus on the core issues/problems affecting the Bahamas and strive to get the incumbent Government and political opposition parties to understand the need for ongoing engagement and participation of civil society in good governance. We believe that achieving better governance requires improvement in some key areas such as transparency, accountability, rule of law, efficiency and inclusiveness.
What does Good Governance include?
Good governance is accountable
Accountability is a fundamental requiement of good governance. Local government has an obligation to report, explain and be answerable for the consequences of decisions it has made on behalf of the community it represents.
Good governance is transparent
People should be able to follow and understand the decision-making process. This means that they will be able to clearly see how and why a decision was made – what information, advice and consultation council considered, and which legislative requirements (when relevant) the government followed.
Good governance follows the rule of law
This means that decisions are consistent with relevant legislation or common law and are within the powers of government.
Good governance is responsive
Government should always try to serve the needs of the entire community while balancing competing interests in a timely, appropriate and responsive manner.
Good governance is equitable and inclusive
A community’s wellbeing results from all of its members feeling their interests have been considered by government in the decision-making process. This means that all stakeholders, particularly the most vulnerable, should have opportunities to participate in the process.
Good governance is effective and efficient
Local government should implement decisions and follow processes that make the best use of the available people, resources and time to ensure the best possible results for their community.
Good governance is participatory
Anyone affected by or interested in a decision should have the opportunity to participate in the process for making that decision. This can happen in several ways – community members may be provided with information, asked for their opinion, given the opportunity to make recommendations or, in some cases, be part of the actual decision-making process.
No party or reform group can accomplish the above goals alone, however. Broad-based and sustained citizen support is essential. That means that improving governance in The Bahamas, as in any other democracy, needs civil society, needs citizen participation, needs you!
For more information on Good Governance and how to get involved visit www.orgbahamas.com
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER- FOIA IS FO’ YA!
It is easy to see that one of The Bahamas leading concerns facing our country is Transparency in government. Why is the deal with the Chinese Export Import Bank over Baha Mar sealed? What is hidden in the BTC majority share buyback? Where are the funds from Junkanoo Carnival and how are they being use?
The Bahamian people have questions that aren’t being answered. Silence and secrecy can be powerful tools that governments employ to mute critics and cloak their actions from public scrutiny. The availability of information to the general public and clarity about government rules, regulations, and decisions is crucial to maintaining accountability in governance and empower citizens.
Organization for Responsible Governance is committed to the establishment of a strong, and fair Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The most recent proposed bill – The Freedom of Information Bill, 2015 – drafted in May 2015 has several flaws preventing it from being an effective tool to empower citizens. We have joined forces with 17 other civil society groups to press for the timely passage of a robust FOIA and have developed a consolidated list of recommendations to ensure the bill will give power to the people and keep the government honest. You can do your part by signing the petition for a “True” FOIA at http://www.campaign242.org/foia_bahamas or writing to your MP.
Want more information on FOIA? See the Official Bahamas Government FAQs.
COMMITTED TO TRANSPARENCY- GET INVOLVED!
Transparency must be reinforced with accountability. Formal checks and balances within government are needed to battle corruption and malfeasance. All stakeholders in The Bahamas- the people, interest groups, civil society, the courts, the press, and opposition parties must insist that those who govern follow legitimate mandates and explain their actions.
Organization for Responsible Governance advocates for attaining accountability in government, regardless of which political party or leader holds power. Those who live and work in The Bahamas deserve to a fair and open system of governance. Nepotism, cronyism and corruption has been the status quo for decades and it is leading to the degradation of the key socioeconomic drivers of our country.
ORG seeks to bring together individuals and organizations that value open and accountable governance. By joining together, we create the strength and solidarity necessary to end corruption and the misuse of public funds. ORG is excited to launch it’s membership program. Concerned Bahamians, organizations and business are invited to join. ORG Members will be kept informed and involved about key issues and activities improving Accountability, Education and Economic Development. You will play an important a role in achieving meaningful and sustainable reform for The Bahamas.
Get involved and Get informed!
Partner Profile: Our Carmichael Empowers the People
If you live in the Carmichael neighborhood, some of the first faces you would have seen after Hurricane Matthew were those of the Our Carmichael team. The group of volunteers provided how-to videos on how to board up before the storm, worked with Omni Cash to assist residents with rebuilding funds, cleared debris from the roads and distributed 4,000 bags of ice to residents without power. Mostly comprised of residents from in and around the neighborhood the quick and passionate response reflects the groups mandate to be the change they want to see in their home base.
In their own words, Our Carmichael is comprised of “persons tired of complaining.” Bringing together Bahamians, Non-Bahamians, young and old, and persons of all backgrounds they have created an apolitical space for people to help one another and create a positive impact on the Carmichael Community.
Devoutly focused on rebuilding the community and addressing key issues through empowerment, Our Carmichael has already championed many causes for their constituents. Recently, the group secured a partnership with Colina General to launch “Insure Carmichael” which encourages residents to get insured with specialized reduced the rates and requires the company to donate a percentage to the initiative from every policy written in the area.
In the past 12 months they have hosted more than 24 workshops on educational and issues such as money management, business management, family planning, community activism and free legal and health seminars. They have launched a job training agency, senior citizens club and young girls club and are looking forward to rolling out a community scholarship programme in the coming weeks.
Now, as Our Carmichael looks to spearhead a movement for more accountable political candidates and leaders, they have joined forces with The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) and 15 other civil society groups to push for a strong, fair Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that empowers the people and keeps the government honest.
“Carmichael is an expanse comprised of at least five political constituencies,” said Ranard Henfield, Founder of Our Carmichael. ‘That means those five MPs have access to constituency allowances that exceed $500,000.00 per annum. Unfortunately, our residents and communities do not benefit from these funds because we can't see how it's managed or influence how it's spent. A ‘True’ FOIA would allow us to see what's being done and propose the best way for the funds to be used to empower and educate our 50,000 plus residents.”
At ORG we believe that collaboration between government, civil society organizations, and citizens is the only way to achieve sustainable, positive change in the areas that affect us most such as governance, education, and the economy. We are proud to have Our Carmichael on board in the campaign for a True FOIA and a more transparent and accountable government.
For information on Our Carmichael, click here.