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Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, says the Government is in the process of rolling out the country’s Local Economic Development (LED) programme, which will facilitate the creation of new enterprises, jobs, and income, for beneficiary stakeholders.

He made the announcement on Wednesday (Oct. 31), at the Social Development Commission’s (SDC) second Parish/Town Hall Meeting held in May Pen, Clarendon.

A World Bank initiative, LED is designed to facilitate development of economic capacity, particularly at the community level, in order to, among other things, improve the quality of life for beneficiary stakeholders.  

This is facilitated through partnerships involvingcentral/local government, the private and not-for-profit sectors, and communities, with emphasis on enhancing competitiveness, increasing sustainable growth and ensuring that growth is inclusive.

Funding for the undertaking is expected to be provided under the Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) initiative, which was launched earlier this year, through $23 million in financing from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Mr. Arscott informed that under Jamaica’s programme, local authorities, being the Parish Councils, will collaborate with stakeholders in the private sector, communities, and relevant state agencies to identify opportunities and initiatives that can “form the basis for new economic enterprises and create jobs and income”.

“Special emphasis will be placed on finding ways to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)…as well as community-based economic enterprises to help them to get started. We intend to utilize the community centres… as centres for economic activities,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Arscott announced plans by the Ministry to pursue the requisite legal framework, which he said will “empower” communities, through their relevant local organizations, to participate in the planning and implementation of programmes and projects, central to their development.

“It will deepen the dynamic partnership among the SDC, the community, and the local authorities. Our concern will not be limited to social empowerment, (but will include) economic empowerment, as well. The SDC will lead a process to establish community economic enterprises that will play a critical role in the renewal and sustainability of communities,” Mr. Arscott informed.

Wednesday’s meeting was one in a series of island-wide fora, being jointly staged by the Ministry and the SDC, under the theme: ‘Government and Governance.'

The aim to provide Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, and other members of the Cabinet and Government, with the opportunity to engage the public, in discussions, on a range of topical issues.

Relevant government agencies also provide updates on programmes and initiatives, specific to the local and parish levels.