The Breakdown: Governance vs. Government
Here at ORG and in The Campaign for The Bahamas, the word ‘governance’ gets a lot of play… it is even in our name. Responsible governance, accountable governance, transparent governance.
With the current focus on Freedom of Information legislation it’s easy to equate the push for better governance with a push for changes to the government, especially with the current lack of trust, warranted or not, of those in power. However, there is so much more to “responsible governance” than what the people in power are up to.
Government is the official body with the authority govern specific common resources and processes. An efficient, open, and accountable governing body and administration are of course a large part of the governance of a country but they are only one part. In an abstract sense, governance at a national level refers to the actions and processes by which a modern society organizes and stabilizes itself.
According to Partners Global: Governance is the processes of decision-making in a society and the processes by which those decisions are implemented. These processes originate and operate in three main arms of society:
- Government/administration – Being the largest decision-maker within society, this is often the most visible aspect of governance. Government derives its legitimacy and power from taxes, legislation, and of course the people.
- Business Sector – An important and powerful tier of governance, especially in a market driven democracy like most western countries, this sector derives its power from its ability to drive prosperity and wealth and distribute resources via employment and trade.
- Civil Society – A relatively weak arm in need of reinforcement in the Bahamas, this is the category that ORG and other volunteer based and non-profit groups fall in. This group drives public participation and works for the people, ideally without financial or political motivation. This sector is an important balance against the other sectors and is crucial to a free, fair democracy.
The boundaries between these three sectors are often permeable, with government agencies like Water and Sewerage and BEC operating in the business sector, business actors coming together to form civil society organizations like the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, and civil society organizations advising the government on their duties or assisting in the implementation of government services.
Partnership and collaboration between these sectors is critical to ensure the proper integration and management of a modern society, from top to bottom. It is crucial that within each sector the principles of responsible governance are observed. Each sector should strive to uphold accountability, transparency, rule of law, responsiveness, inclusiveness, fairness, participation, and efficiency. These are the tenets of responsibel governance.
ORG and The Campaign for the Bahamas fight for Responsible Governance. That means better systems and management across these sectors to create development, greater opportunity for Bahamas and its citizens. We work to create intersector dialogue on the issues most pressing in our nation and drive participation in the decision-making process from all levels of society to create positive change that is in the public interest.
No government, political party or reform group can accomplish responsible governance alone. Broad-based and sustained citizen support is essential. That means that improving governance in The Bahamas, as in any other democracy, needs citizen participation - needs you!
For more information on Responsible Governance and how to get involved visit ORG Bahamas – Organization for Responsible Governance