Top Public Servants from CARICOM in Belize Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 23 January 2014 00:00

Twenty-two of the highest ranking public servants from twelve Caribbean countries are in Belize participating in a Leadership Development Programme sponsored by the Government of Canada.

Belize is being represented by Tracy Panton, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Tourism, and David Leacock, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education. According to Marie Legault, Counsellor of the High Commission of Canada-Jamaica, the programme is designed to build the capacity of public service leaders to prompt economic growth, contribute more effectively to regional integration and promote gender sensitive public sector reform.

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, delivered the keynote address focusing on the topic “Citizen Centered Service- Answering the Call to Action”. Minister Faber said it should be the goal of every administration to operate a people centered government. In order to do that, governments must know what the people want. He says, “Figuring out what the people want is simple. You do so by listening to them.” He cautioned; however, that listening can also be complex. He said there are times when you may think you are doing something that everyone will be happy with only to be met with strong opposition. Minister Faber pointed to his experience with the passage of the Education and Training Act. Long before being elected to Government, from the time he was a teacher and active due-paying member of the union, he has heard his colleagues complained about the unfair hiring and termination of teachers. Faber explained the Church-State education system in Belize to the course participants. He gave examples of how teachers were hired by schools because they were members of the managing church and how the Minister could hire and fire who he wanted. The Education and Training Act included provisions for the establishment of a Teaching Services Commission which would be responsible for the hiring of teachers and other such matters. Minister Faber thought the bill would be welcomed since it was what the people wanted, citizen centered; however, there was loud opposition- the union was the loudest opponent. Faber said that was an eye opener for him. While he still listens to the people, his decisions are not determined by those who are the loudest. Instead, he told the participants that governments should prioritize interventions that provide the greatest benefits to the greatest number of people.

Countries represented in the second cohort of the Leadership Development Programme are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The conference in Belize is taking place from Monday January 20th, to Friday, January 24th. During this time the participants will go on field trips examining four programmes that are working extremely well in Belize. those are the CISCO Construction’s employment programme for at risk youths, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Building Opportunities for Our Social Transformation (BOOST) Programme and the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center.

The next meeting for Cohort 2 of the Leadership Development Programme will be held in Canada in February of this year. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development is funding the programme under the seven-year Caribbean Leadership Project. Belizean participants from the first cohort of the Leadership Development Program are Audrey Wallace, Chief Executive Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, and Lawrence Sylvestre, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.