Government Launches Department of Constituency Empowerment

Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 14, 2013 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, in its thrust to place communities’ fates in their own hands, recently launched the Department of Constituency Empowerment.

Signing of memorandum of understanding. L-R Telca Wallace, P.M. Denzil L. Douglas, P.S. Ashton Stanley, Dr. Joyelle Clarke, Meshach Alford, Natasha Leader
Signing of memorandum of understanding. L-R Telca Wallace, P.M. Denzil L. Douglas, P.S. Ashton Stanley, Dr. Joyelle Clarke, Meshach Alford, Natasha Leader

In a brief ceremony on Friday November 08, before a captive audience from a wide cross section of the society, the department was launched at the La Guerite grounds of the Ministry of Agriculture under the auspices of the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Edmund Lawrence.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Marine Resources and Co-operatives, Mr Ashton Stanley, said the formation of the Department of Constituency Empowerment was a result of overcoming several challenges and milestones over the previous months.

“The installation of the Department of Constituency Empowerment marks three unique milestones for the government of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Permanent Secretary Stanley. “Firstly, manifestation of Government’s commitment to establishing a department focusing primarily on the needs of all constituents, secondly, it’s a clear demonstration of the willingness to allow constituents to play integral and active roles in the governance of their constituencies and participation in policy making and thirdly, unambiguous indication that government recognizes the importance of public partnerships and inter-ministerial collaboration.”

The Permanent Secretary said that it was important to note that although there are a number of divisions that can be applied to introduce the department such as Parishes, Rurals and Community Empowerment. This department will also be operating at the constituency level for a number of functional and administrative reasons.

According to the Permanent Secretary, the establishment of this unit is in line with regional movements to establish departments of constituency empowerment and social care throughout the region. Dominica, Jamaica and Barbados have each forged similar departments in their respective jurisdictions.

Prime Minister the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, under whose per view the department of Constituency Empowerment comes, was present and uttered words of congratulations to all stakeholders who will be involved with this department.

The Honourable Prime Minister reminded all present that some of the main responsibilities of any Government should be to serve, secure goods and services for the ordinary man and assist citizens in acquiring all the necessities required for everyday existence.

“Let me also say that it is significant that the term self-help has such resonance with this department ladies and gentlemen, because we understand that it is not the department’s role to tell the various communities what they need, but instead listen,” said the Prime Minister, “and actually hear the various communities spread all across this nation outline through this department to the government what their needs are. Based on their own sense of initiative, and based on their own self-help impulses, we wish to hear what the communities say to us.”

Dr. Douglas also spoke of the many developments presently being carried out in St. Kitts and Nevis and charged the department of Constituency Empowerment to play a pivotal role in bridging communication gaps between government and the community.

Newly appointed Director of the department Dr. Joyelle Clarke invited five community groups to sign a memorandum of understanding to cement their commitment to work with the department of Constituency Empowerment.

Close to EC$250,000.00 has been committed to these groups to facilitate training and empowerment over the course of the next few months.

The gathering on this occasion was entertained by the Basseterre High School Steel Orchestra.

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