By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Minnis administration is moving closer to bringing local government to New Providence, with Press Secretary Anthony Newbold announcing yesterday that an advisory committee has been established to guide its inception.
The committee features at least 17 people from various institutions across government and civil society.
They are expected to produce a preliminary report for Cabinet by the end of August, Mr Newbold said.
The Minnis administration wants local government to be introduced in New Providence by the time local government elections in the Family Islands come around again in 2020.
Announcing the group had its first meeting last week Wednesday, Mr Newbold said the committee received its "charge from Transport and Local Government Minister Frankie Campbell at that meeting, who emphasised the importance of them taking a non-partisan approach to their deliberations."
An Inter-American Development Bank study on local government has been presented to Cabinet. The IDB presented several options for how local government in New Providence can be designed.
The options, according to Mr Newbold, include introducing local government in New Providence similar to the system in the Family Islands; introducing strong local government at a district level in New Providence that is a substantial devolution of power from the central government; introducing a community empowerment system involving local organisations; introducing stronger local service offices at constituent levels built around MP constituencies; introducing a government office for New Providence with a coordinating minister for New Providence and a New Providence development board; introducing island-wide city government to deal with matters; introducing a combined authority through mayors and ministers to oversee island-wide development issues; and introducing an island/urban development agency with specific charter responsibility and budget coordination execution and investment of urban infrastructures in New Providence.
Asked if Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has a preference among those options, Mr Newbold said: "Whatever works. The discussions are going to have to go on, will have to continue."
The members of the committee include chairman, Senator Ranard Henfield; Vice Chairman Cephas Cooper, Director of Local Government Joel Lewis, Acting Undersecretary at the Ministry of Transport & Local Government; Dr Nicola Virgil Rolle, director of the Economic Development and Planning Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister; Leron Neely, a representative of the Ministry of Finance; Karen Dorsett and Lenette King, representatives of the Office of the Attorney General; and Diane Holowesko-Dunkley representing the Town Planning Committee.
Others include: Philip Turner, the parliamentary registrar; Matthew Aubry, head of the Organisation for Responsible Government, Roderick Pinder, president of the Bahamas Association of Local Government Authorities; Dr Nicolette Bethel representing the University of the Bahamas; Gadville McDonald representing the National Training Agency; Dwight Strachan, Guardian radio host; Valentino Brown, representing the Hay Street Movement for Change; Philip Smith, a former member of Parliament and representative for the Official Opposition; Errol Bethel, former parliamentary commissioner; Ed Fields, representing the Downtown Nassau Partnership; and Brett Lashley, the programme manager in the Economic Development Unit at the Office of the Prime Minister.