Minister of Constituency Empowerment, Steve Blackett, presenting one of the new councilors with her instruments of appointment. (A. Miller/BGIS)
The first phase of the Constituency Council programme has come to an end; and another was initiated at the weekend.
In a ceremony held last Saturday evening, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, the final 12 Constituency Councils were launched, signaling the end of the implementation phase of the programme.
They 16 are: St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. Joseph, St. James Central, St. Michael West, St. Michael West Central, St. Michael North East, St. Thomas, St. Michael Central, St. Michael East, St. Michael South Central and Christ Church West.
During his address, Minister of Constituency Empowerment, Steve Blackett, desribed the launch as a "defining moment in the history of governance in Barbados.
"…It completes the laying of a foundation on which good governance can be built…Good governance…has become an integral component of poverty reduction strategies and is widely promoted by several development institutions…Good governance speaks to people’s participation at the grass roots level and relates to the devolution of power from the top to the genuine involvement of the poor from the bottom…It seeks to create an environment that empowers people, especially the most vulnerable among us, so that they can have a voice in the affairs of governance," Mr. Blackett said.
The Minister underscored that Government’s aim, through the establishment of the Constituency Councils, was "to allow for decentralization of decision-making, strengthening of democracy and encouragement of people’s participation in the development of the nation."
He said that "based on the performance of the existing Councils, the policy is working.
"In getting here, the journey was not without its challenges, but it continues to be laced with precious rewards.?? It is a journey to which my Ministry is committed, and with the continued dedication of staff and Council members the journey will indeed be successful," the Social Care Minister asserted.
Director of Constituency Empowerment, Kirk Humphrey, also alluded to the possible challenges of the Constituency Council programme, but urged the councilors to be guided by the oath to which they pledged.
"…The success of the Councils depends on team work. Unfortunately our improved standard of living has brought with it some decay in our need, and desire to depend on, and trust others. These days the individual is king. As a people, we need to get back to team building and collective responsibility and learning to make decisions, through respect and with decency. Such is the way the councils must conduct themselves and their business," Mr. Humphrey stated.
The pilot phase of the Constituency Council programme began on July 9, 2009, with the launching of six Councils. Twelve more were subsequently launched on March 27, 2010.