Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development, Christopher Sinckler (FP)

The 30 Constituency Councils to be established by Government shortly will each consist of 11 members whose mandate will be to identify parochial needs and initiate ameliorative programmes at the individual constituency level.

Specifically, their core functions will be to build relevant databases of constituencies, identify priority needs, make recommendations to central government for programmes or projects in the area, assist local organisations to build capacity and help with the delivery of designated goods and services.  

This was revealed during the week by Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development, Christopher Sinckler, during a press conference at his Warren’s Office.

Noting that persons seeking to be represented on these councils may come from a number of groups, including  faith based, youth, sports, emergency management and  women and  men’s organisations, he pointed out that individuals involved in community work were also eligible to be represented on these councils.   The members will be appointed either as representatives of community and special interest groups, and nominees of the main political organisations and the Minister responsible for the councils.

According to the Minister, the Department of Constituency Empowerment will be responsible for determining the final composition of the councils.  The criteria for appointment include geographic representation, expertise, gender balance, and priority needs of the constituency.

The tenure of the councils will be two years and persons eligible to sit on the councils must be 18 years or older, of good character, a citizen or permanent resident of Barbados, a resident of the constituency or associated with the constituency “in some visible and tangible way” and not already serving on another constituency council.

Mr. Sinckler remarked that although there were some departments that were competent in carrying out their functions, there were still many areas and issues in constituencies that were not being dealt with, and in this regard, the Constituency Councils would play a great role.

 “Our hope is that the Constituency Council, on the ground, can come in and play an identification role, but also play an interventionist role in ensuring that those issues get resolved.  Matters like street lighting, drainage, trees that need cutting down, working with community groups in the area, those kind of activities that tend to slip through the cracks in the hurly burly of public administration.   We are ensuring that we get those holes plugged and those services are delivered in a timely, consistent and reliable fashion,” he said.

The financing of the councils will be by central government.  “We have anticipated a budget of $100,000 to begin with for each council and we hope that those monies… will be made available to the councils according to criteria to be determined, most likely on a tranche basis and on as a required needs basis, Minister Sinckler indicated.    

He also disclosed that the work of the councils would be largely be voluntary, and public officers would be responsible for providing guidance. “This is really a very large volunteer programme… The workers who will assist in guiding the councils and administering their affairs are public officers and will be public officers drawn from various departments across the government who can afford to assist by lending this human resource…. By and large, it will be public officers drawn from across the system who are familiar with the workings of the public service, who have worked in the communities and are familiar with these communities …but basically outside of that, serving on the council, participating in the process is voluntary,” he stressed. 

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