Prime Minister David Thompson,??adressingd the launch of six Constituency Councils.
The Constituency Councils are to serve the people of Barbados in the best possible way, as a means of strengthening democracy and taking local governance to a higher level.
This was the promise of Prime Minister David Thompson, as he addressed the launch of six Constituency Councils at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, yesterday.
The Prime Minister said the Councils represented the principles of good governance, in which Members of Parliament would now have a more enhanced role and would be held accountable to their constituents on an on-going basis. This, he said, was enunciated in the Throne Speech of February 12, 2008.
"The Constituency Council is therefore designed to enable the MP to interact with all of his/her constituents in a politically neutral environment. He/she is required to address public meetings at least twice a year. He/she is required to take issues emanating at the grassroots level to Parliament and back to the community. This is what taking government to the people is all about," he maintained.
The Prime Minister explained: "At present, MPs are finding that even though they are able to listen to the complaints of their constituents, they are not always able to respond to all of their concerns and needs."
Mr. Thompson stressed that Council members would be expected to adhere to such principles as participation, accountability, transparency, rule of law, inclusiveness, consensus orientation, effectiveness and efficiency, and responsiveness.
According to him, another important feature of the Councils was that ordinary people would be encouraged to take responsibility for their own development. This, he added, was designed to foster greater independence, instead of constantly relying on government support. He also said that vulnerable groups would have a chance to be heard.
"Almost every vulnerable group has an organisation that was set up to defend their rights and pursue their interests. The Constituency Council gives a voice to those groups, which are often overlooked and which suffer in silence;" he declared.
In addition, he said the Councils made provision for "giving something back". Hence, he observed that an integral part of the model was a major national Volunteer Programme, similar to the one created for World Cup 2007.
"If every member of society takes, but does not give back, the community would soon be bankrupt," the Prime Minister contended. He said this programme would be launched as soon as the 30 Constituency Councils were established.
In marking this new chapter in Barbados’ history, Mr. Thompson observed that the current model was uniquely suited to the conditions that pertained in a modern Barbados, and would embody the aspirations of its people and ensure that their issues were addressed.
The six Constituency Councils launched last Sunday were Christ Church South, St. George South, St. Michael North, St. Michael North West, St. Philip South, and St. James North.