JIS News

Chairman of the Social Development Commission (SDC), Robert Bryan has said that local government should be seen as a distinct sphere of government with specific responsibilities rather than a second tier or second cousin of central government.
Mr. Bryan was making his presentation at the High-level Inter-American Network of Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen Participation Sub Regional Mandate and Activities conference held in Trinidad on Wednesday (August 24).
In his address at the workshop on ‘Local Democracy, Empowering Communities and Effective Citizens Participation and Sustainable Development’, the SDC chairman called for “efforts (to) be intensified to fix the local government structures for the efficient delivery of basic services and the development planning process in the jurisdiction”.
He noted that mechanisms must be put in place to facilitate inter-agency coordination in the development process to stimulate economic growth and job creation. He said these mechanisms needed to be clear on what their responsibilities were. “To do this, their role must be clearly defined. That cannot happen without rationalization of the role of central government. This includes clarification of the role of Members of Parliament and councillors, central ministries and local state structures,” he stated.
Having defined the roles and responsibilities, these mechanisms needed to be adequately sourced to provide the services for which it had responsibilities, Mr. Bryan said.
“Clearly, a definitive and reliable agreement is required between central and local mechanism as to how resources are allocated. Property tax, motor vehicle licences, and user fees are dedicated resources but these are not enough,” the SDC Chairman said, adding that concentrated effort was needed to develop a suitable, new enforceable agreement on this issue.
He pointed out also, that these mechanisms needed the proper legislative framework to enable and protect the operations. “This requires undivided, concentrated efforts on the part of our legislators and the executive to ensure that the relevant laws and operational frameworks are in place to give real effect to the process,” Mr. Bryan emphasized.
In addition, for this profound transformation to take place simultaneously within local communities and across the nation, he argued that the most substantial and unprecedented central coordination was required to ensure that the process was effectively implemented. “The ability of local government to function and discharge its responsibilities effectively requires a serious simultaneous effort,” he reiterated.