Months after a report on the implementation of local government on New Providence was finalized, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said yesterday the report is still being reviewed.
“The proposal for the introduction of local government for New Providence is under review,” he said.
“In the meantime, I wish to publicly thank the advisory [committee] for the timely completion of their comprehensive and well-researched report.”
Wells made the brief comments on local government during his contribution to the budget debate.
The promise of local government for New Providence was a galvanizing plank of the Free National Movement’s (FNM) bid for election in 2017.
An advisory committee was set up and led by activist, and now Senator Ranard Henfield. In February, Henfield said two years of research resulted in a report that was forwarded to Wells months before, but he lamented that no action had been taken on it.
The Nassau Guardian obtained a copy of the report, which strongly recommends that Cabinet introduce strong local government on New Providence during the 2020 local government election cycle. Its findings also suggest that there be an overhaul of the Family Island local government system that was birthed in 1996 “but remains in an infantile state”.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Henfield called for the swift introduction of a local government system on New Providence.
“Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 have confirmed loudly that The Bahamas and, yes, New Providence, needs a new model of governance, one in which local issues are determined by the people they will affect,” Henfield said.
“If you live on Abaco, Grand Bahama or Harbour Island, etc., there is no way in 2020, that your local community concerns should be decided in Nassau.
“Likewise, if you live in New Providence, there are so many decisions that ought not be left to the central government. How tax dollars are spent, which have been raised in any of these districts, should be decided by the people who paid them.
“Why am I paying taxes if I have no say on how they can be spent to improve policing and traffic flow in my community, in maintaining the community’s public facilities and infrastructures, in creating jobs in the community and educating the kids in my community?”