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    Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague, has pointed to the need for visionary Commonwealth leaders, who can motivate those they work with, as the body moves toward autonomous local governance in member countries.
    “We are at a juncture in which there is the need for a vision …that all local government practitioners and policymakers are cognisant of and (can) adopt in reforming and or shaping the local governance process across the Commonwealth,” Mr. Montague said yesterday (May 12), as he addressed the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
    “Like any organisation that is serious about succeeding, it is the vision of the leader that will drive the other employees and the operations of the other business units in the organisation. It is also the leader of that organisation, possessing the ability to inspire, to be transformational, who will share the vision with every member of his team in the organisation,” he added.
    According to the State Minister, it is this vision in pursuit of continuous improvement, that is driving the Commonwealth local government process across the region.
    “There is the goodly saying that ‘without vision the people perish’. This maxim holds true for us in local government if we, the policymakers and practitioners, cannot pass on and translate the vision to our peoples and our communities to ensure its continuity and relevance. Failing this, local government in the Commonwealth will not only stagnate, but will die,” he argued.
    Mr. Montague said that even as countries grappled with the economic crisis, they should not lose sight of the visions that have led to so much progress for local governance. “We have come too far to allow this crisis to strangulate our efforts and erode the gains made so far. We have come too far to turn back now. We have gained too much to lose it now,” he stated.
    Minister Montague acknowledged that the various governments have had to cut their local government budgets significantly, but expressed confidence that the collective people of the Commonwealth had the capacity to ride out the recession and continue the progress. “We possess the ability to see the glass full. We have confronted national disasters, we can confront this too,” he pointed out.
    The CLGF has a mandate to promote and strengthen effective democratic local government throughout the Commonwealth and to facilitate the exchange of good practice in local government structures and services. It draws on a membership of almost 200 persons in 40 countries.
    The fourth CLGF is being held in the Bahamas between May 11 and 15, representing the first occasion that the conference is being staged in the Americas. Some 900 participants from 53 Commonwealth countries are attending the conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘Improving Local Government: the Commonwealth Vision.’
    Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding will address the meeting tomorrow (May 14), where he will speak on the topic: ‘Putting vision into practice: measuring impact’.

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