The Commonwealth Training Programme on Public Policy and Management was officially opened Monday by Minister of State for Finance the Hon Zhivargo Laing, who has responsibility for the Public Service.

This comes on the heels of the launching of the Service Improvement Programme for the
Department of Public Service, by Prime Minister the Rt Hon Hubert Ingraham on Friday,
May 23.

The Commonwealth, of which The Bahamas is member, is seeking to “enhance the public policy development capability of senior officials in small states to devise policy solutions to counteract or cope with their vulnerabilities.”

The workshop held at the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino from May 26 – 30, 2008, is hosted by the Department of Public Service in conjunction with the Commonwealth Secretariat and Cave Hill School of Business, University of the West Indies.

In his keynote address, Mr. Laing acknowledged that the programme is “indeed a timely and important” one, as small developing states such as The Bahamas face a number of challenges in pursuit of its objectives.

“While we try to ensure maximum good paid employment for our citizens, entrepreneurial opportunities for our businesspeople, the optimal education for our children, adequate safety net for our poor and sustainability for our environment, we encounter the obstacles from our dependency on the economic performance of larger economies, the shocks of international regulatory standards imposed upon us, the demands of ever-increasing competition from the forces of globalisation and the impact of natural disasters,” Mr. Laing said.

Added to this are the uncertainties surrounding the effects of climate change, rising and “seemingly out of control” food and fuel prices, he said.

According to Mr. Laing, in order to cope with these challenges, there must be “sound public policies that clearly define their objectives and craft strategies that are capable of achieving them.”

And, in order for this to happen he said public officers must be highly trained and skilled in this area of public policy making.

“The policy decisions that the government makes are greatly influenced by the advice it obtains from their officials and the quality of their advice depends upon their training,” Mr Laing said.

The course covers subjects such as:

· Evolution of Public Administration Systems and Structures and Structures of Governance across the region;
· Public Policy Making and the various elements in the policy making process;
· Current Issues in Public Policy;
· Ethics of Good Governance; and,
· CSME and the Impact on Policy Development

Mr Laing noted that while The Bahamas is not a member of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and “does not intend to join the same”, the Bahamian participants in the workshop will find the discussions on that topic useful as part of their regional perspective on public policy development.

Participants represented are The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr Joan Imhoff-Nwasike, Adviser (Caribbean Region), Governance and Institutional Development Division also brought brief remarks.