Civil society calls for reform

SOCIO-ECONOMIC and cultural rights are being advocated by members of Civil Society Bahamas, as the organisation presented its case for reform to the Constitutional Commission.

The Government-appointed panel is continuing its public hearings on constitutional reform from a cross-section of the community.

Anthony Hamilton, President of Civil Society Bahamas, focused his presentation on Thursday on the theme: “Taking Responsibility – Re-education, Training and Development”.

We The People, another organisation, also made a presentation.

Civil Society Bahamas’s primary concerns were the need for tripartite “good governance” and the development of a consultative and inclusive non-partisan national development plan reflective of the constitution.

Mr Hamilton said the Preamble of the Constitution should reflect a national plan for the balanced and sustained development of the people of the Family Islands.

He said this should be encouraged through a focus on the family – marriage between man and woman; education – higher learning national education system; business and commerce – national standards and procedures for accountability of projects through systematic process management; media – responsible and relevant freedom of the press; arts and entertainment – sustained quality cultural expression; good governance focus – tripartite consultative and inclusive non-partisan national leadership.

Civil Society Bahamas also said there was an urgent need to reconcile executive power.

“It is a critical objective of well meaning individuals for both themselves and other members of the Bahamian society that efficient, effective, accountable, professional and democratic governance is executed by the national leaders in particular, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas and Cabinet members,” Mr Hamilton said.

He added: “Civil Society supports the view of limited tenure and recommends that a Prime Minister should serve in that office for a period of no more than two consecutive terms, which is not exceeding in the current system ten years.”

The structure of the Senate appears not to be as effective and was perceived by Civil Society in many instances to be little more than a “rubber stamp”.

Civil Society said it supported capital punishment as reflected in the laws of the Bahamas for enforcement.

In the area of economic empowerment, Mr Hamilton said it should be made common for all Bahamians and that national financial policy decisions reflect a sustained structured process for small businesses start-up and expansion encouragement.

Other areas of reform he suggested were: an entertainment (cultural heritage) Encourage Act be maintained; Public service reform making general orders more relevant; allocate provisions for land and open sea area for aqua-culture development; Bahamians having direct access to foreign capital through the encouragement of buying and selling of international stocks and bonds; and lower interest rates for government homes and no age discrimination on mortgages.

The Government appointed the Constitutional Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the Constitution of the Bahamas and to recommend changes to that effect, prior to the country’s 40th Independence anniversary.


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