Kudos to Premier Dr. Orlando Smith for making himself regularly available to the media and for promising last week to hold a press conference every couple of weeks.
We hope that he keeps his word, and that other government ministers will follow his example.
Since December, Dr. Smith has met with journalists fairly regularly, and he has given them ample opportunity to ask questions on any topic they choose. This process helps the press to do its job of informing the public and holding the government accountable during this crucial recovery period.
However, the premier typically cannot speak to topics that don’t come under his umbrella of responsibility. This is where other ministers need to step up to the plate. Though they rightly attended recent meetings on the territory’s Recovery and Development Plan, that series is winding down.
To ensure that they too remain accessible in the coming weeks and months, ministers should hold regular press briefings, perhaps scheduling them during the off weeks between the premier’s sessions.
Such openness — which is a critical part of the transparency that is urgently needed during the rebuilding process — should not be limited to ministers either. Senior public officers should do their best to make themselves available to the media as well, as should the members of the soon-to-be-established Recovery and Development Agency, which will oversee the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid funding to various recovery efforts.
Meanwhile, tendering processes, contract signings and related events should be public as well, and the press should get a chance to ask questions about them too.
For their part, the media should make good use of any access they are granted, working overtime to understand the issues, liaise with the public, and ask relevant questions.
Such steps will help to ensure that the entire community is able to understand and follow the recovery process and contribute meaningfully in the coming months.
We are glad that the premier seems committed to leading the way.