A NUMBER of concerned citizens, local business people and community leaders have formed a new non-profit, non-partisan coalition to advocate for open, accountable and responsible governance.
The continuing lack of accountability, transparency, integrity, responsibility and equitable enforcement of the rule of law by successive governments over the last 35 years has put The Bahamas at risk, according to the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG).
The organisation, a membership based, non-profit foundation founded in 2015, is comprised of Bahamian citizens, residents, student and youth organisations, civic groups, community leaders, businesses, associations and civil society. This diverse and inclusionary group says it will focus on “initiating a national dialogue on core socioeconomic and geopolitical concerns affecting The Bahamas, including open and accountable government; fiscal, energy, educational, economic, immigration and constitutional reforms; the equitable enforcement of the rule of law; monetary policy; trade agreements and the ease of doing business.
To support this, ORG will launch public awareness and education campaigns to better engage and empower the Bahamian people in these issue areas and publish research and statistical data that will assist in educating the populace and the leadership of the nation on important issues.
“ORG pledges to identify core problems affecting our nation and to be a catalyst in the development of actionable solutions,” said Dionisio D’Aguilar, Counsellor and Spokesperson for ORG, in a statement last night. “ORG shall work with international and local organisations, politicians, political parties and government to meet the objectives of the foundation and civil society.”
While The Bahamas continues to be widely regarded internationally as a thriving, post-colonial democracy, ORG says that criticism is mounting over a lack of transparency in governance. “It is well understood that the nation’s fiscal health is critical and explicitly linked to the even enforcement of the rule of law, education, energy efficiency, taxes, immigration policies as well as government transparency, accountability, competitiveness and ease of doing business,” the group’s statement read.
“This lack of transparency and good governance has resulted in economic hardship for citizens whose voices have been stifled along with their ability to effect meaningful change in their society.”
The organisation says good governance must include processes of civil society inclusion and consensus prior to making and implementing decisions. “It is about accountability, transparency, the adherence to the rule of law, responsiveness, equitability and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, and most importantly participation. Good governance is about making “correct‟ decisions, but more importantly about arriving at the best possible process for making those decisions.”
To better understand how to address the core issues of accountability, education and economic development, ORG is currently in a process of research and discovery and working with a number of civil society organisations, the Chamber of Commerce and government entities. To that end it is holding a Civil Society Think Tank today. The Think Tank will bring together local leaders from civil society, the private sector, media, industry associations, economists, academia and religious groups. These representatives will assist in framing the priority areas and next steps toward national improvement in the areas of Accountability, Education and Economic Development.
ORG says it will publish the findings from the Think Tank and make them available to the public.
Additionally, ORG will draw from international examples of positive reform and is already communicating with leaders in these efforts that will help to provide best practices and research for actionable solutions to affect positive change to the way The Bahamas is managed and governed.
The organisation says it recognises that co-operation and collaboration with the government represents the most effective way to obtain change, gain progress and achieve success in The Bahamas. As such, using the best information, research and resources available, ORG will seek government support and recognition as an official representative of civil society and will request the government and opposing political parties’ engagement in proactive, cooperative, collaborative and actionable dialogue to improve the country’s socio-economic health.