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Jamaica’s local government reform process has come in for much praise, and is seen as a model worthy of emulation by a number of sister islands in the Caribbean, which are at various stages of implementing local government reform.
Consultant on Local Government Reform in the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Keith Miller, told JIS News in a recent interview that other countries “are looking at what has happened in Jamaica, and there is a general recognition that Jamaica has gone far further and has led the way…so there is a certain extent to which Jamaica is looked to for leadership in spearheading [local governance] in the Caribbean”.
Mr. Miller was speaking against the background of the high-level Inter-American Network of Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen Participation Sub Regional Mandate and Activities Conference (also referred to by the Spanish acronym, RIAD), which was held in Trinidad last month. Local Government Ministers from several countries within the region attended the conference.
He explained that RIAD came out of an agreement at a Summit of the Heads of State of the Americas, “with certain mandates for advancing local democracy, and the Caribbean has been earmarked as a sub-region of that organisation”.
The Trinidad meeting, Mr. Miller said, was the first gathering of the sub-grouping of RIAD, and the objective of the meeting was to “follow up on initiatives which have been taken in trying to develop a regional approach on the whole issue of local government and enhancing local democracy in the region”.
Pointing to the third RIAD conference scheduled to be held in Brazil next month, the Consultant said the agenda for the upcoming meeting would focus on what was accomplished at the previous session and give details of the main areas of focus for the next two years.
“So the Trinidad meeting, to some extent, was a way of concretising some of the things that we have been doing, and which we would need to report at the Brazil meeting,” he informed.