ARRIVAL: The four-member Bahamian delegation to the 2007 Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Meeting in New Delhi, India were presented with garlands upon their arrival for the week-long parley, which was held from September 22 to September 29. Second from left is Picewell Forbes, M.P. for South Andros; Minister of State for Utilities the Hon. Phenton Neymour, Senator Katherine Forbes-Smith, Parliamentary Secretary and David Forbes, Assistant Clerk in the House of Assembly. The delegation is flanked by escorts.
NASSAU, Bahamas -The Bahamas has been invited to host the 2010 meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Minister of State for Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Phenton O. Neymour, who led a four-member delegation to the 2007 CPA meeting in New Delhi, India in late September, announced on Monday that executives of the CPA have invited The Bahamas to host its 99th annual conference in 2010.
The United Kingdom is expected to play host to the association when it celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2011.
Minister Neymour was accompanied at the New Delhi meeting by Sen. the Hon. Katherine Forbes-Smith, Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister; Opposition Member of Parliament Picewell Forbes and David Forbes, Assistant Clerk in the House of Assembly.
Mr. Neymour said although The Bahamas has been invited to host the 2010 CPA meeting, another nation, Zambia has expressed willingness to host the event that year. He emphasized that the ultimate decision will be made by CPA executives.
The meeting next year will be held in Malaysia. At the moment, no country has been assigned for the 2009 CPA parley.
Minister Neymour underscored that before The Bahamas can play host to such a prestigious event, the invitation would have to be approved by the Government of The Bahamas. Following such an approval, he said, a final consent would have to be made by the executive team of the CPA. The Bahamas last hosted a CPA conference in 1992.
Minister Neymour is also advocating that The Bahamas play a meaningful role in the leadership of the CPA. He suggests that the composition of Bahamian delegates to the CPA be consistent.
“If one wants to offer for office,” he stated, “one has to be known to Commonwealth parliamentarians. It is important for The Bahamas to play a role in the CPA. I think we have a lot to offer particularly with small countries with regards to advice.
“The Bahamas, with respect to its 238 years of unbroken parliamentary democracy, are leaders in the Caribbean. We were able to give advice in India to smaller countries particularly during informal sessions.”
During this year’s CPA conference, Mr. Neymour addressed delegates on “The Role of the Opposition in a Parliamentary Democracy”.
The Minister of State also led a discussion on Opposition politics, along with Senator Allan Ferguson, President of the Senate in Australia and the Hon. Alban Bagbin, a Member of Parliament and Minority Leader in Ghana.
Minister Neymour said “it was a privilege to address the topic and open the floor to other parliamentary colleagues on the topic. That was a significant contribution.”
“With regards to my presentation,” he stated, “it was a pleasure to recognize the advancement of democracy in The Bahamas relative to other members of the Commonwealth in that there is a very good relationship between the Opposition and the Government in The Bahamas in terms of our level of communication and respect.
“The delegation from The Bahamas was able to communicate to other delegates various areas of improvement with regards to democracy.”
According to Minister Neymour, the conference dealt with a number of issues, including “Regulating Immigration and Human Trafficking”, “Protecting the Environment” and “Exploring Alternate Sources of Energy”.
Sen. Forbes-Smith participated in the election of officers for the Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentary Association. They elected a woman from Pakistan – Kashmala Tariej – to sit as president.
Picewell Forbes, M.P. for South Andros, joined the discussion on illegal immigration.