Local Government Ministry Forms Alliances To Enhance Reform Process


The Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sports is moving to form alliances to adopt local governance practices of developed countries, such as the United States and Canada, in an effort to further enhance the local government reform process.
The alliances are based on the Ministry’s participation in the Second Meeting of Ministers and High-Level Authorities Responsible For Policies on Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen Participation, at the Municipal Level in the Hemisphere, that was hosted last month in Mexico.
Consultant on Local Government Reform, Keith Miller, who was a member of the Jamaican delegation attending the three-day conference in Mexico City, told JIS News that the group made important connections. “We were able to get some information from the Canadian Federation of Municipalities as to how they have developed in terms of the instruments and mechanisms they have used for citizen participation,” he informed.
He said that the Jamaican delegation, which was headed by Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, also met the Association of Cities and Conference of Mayors, the United States body responsible for local governance.
Mr. Miller mentioned that the delegation had exchanged information with the United States and was now looking towards “examining their best practices for managing their municipal affairs.”
The Consultant said that it was likely that the Ministry would seek to send persons to the United States to observe the systems of governance.
Commenting on the topics discussed at the conference, Mr. Miller said that among the issues was the need to establish linkages between different countries and how the conference’s membership could help in “providing information, best practices, experiences and exchanges between all the members.”
The membership is known as the Inter-American Network For Decentralization, Local Governance and Citizen Participation and is identified more simply by the Spanish acronym, RIAD.
Another topic dealt with devising common strategies, which countries could adopt. Mr. Miller explained that this meant the provision of a general framework in which countries would be able to examine and determine the extent to which strategies could be adopted to advance areas of support.
Declaring Jamaica’s participation in the conference as being a solid learning experience for the Ministry’s delegation, Mr. Miller said that a significant contribution made by Jamaica’s delegation was to highlight the importance of having the smaller Caribbean nations being set apart from their larger counterparts in the Americas, because of their unique socio-economic backgrounds.
Continuing, Mr. Miller added that a strong plea was made for rendering special assistance to the Caribbean.
At the meeting a number of vice-presidents were elected to oversee the English-speaking Caribbean countries to assist with coordination and implementation of strategies.
Participants at the conference comprised 23 countries from the Americas, including North, South and Central America, as well as several Caribbean countries. In addition to the various countries, there were also international development agencies that were represented. The agencies included the United Nations, the Inter-American Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

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