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Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has said that despite the challenges of charting the way forward to establish a quality local government structure in the region, noticeable progress has been made through the Caribbean Local Government Forum of Ministers, which must be recognized.
He commended the forum, which was formed in 2004, for the proactive and useful interventions that had been made to assist the countries of the region in advancing the cause of and improving the quality of local government.
“There is a great deal that has been happening in that theatre in recent times,” Mr. Golding stated as he delivered the keynote address at the official opening ceremony of the Regional Local Government Consultation and Conference at the Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay this morning (May 29).
He noted that Jamaica has been wrestling with the matter of local government reform for some time “but what I think is useful and so different now is that we have moved the deliberations beyond just our own internal local government framework”.
“We have increasingly, in recent years, regionalized the consultation where we are talking with our Caribbean partners and this is very useful because there are so many similarities in our own governmental structures. We have common history, we evolved in very much the same way and therefore we are able to find the best practices that ought to be employed,” he pointed out.
Stating that local government must be transformational, Mr. Golding said that in the deliberation process, consideration should be given to “how we can transform the environment and the quality of life that it provides, into something that is more wholesome and sustainable and something that takes into account the needs of future generations that will come.”
He noted further that the local government system and structure must be clothed with integrity, demonstrate transparency and exhibit and command the confidence of the people.
“If people don’t have confidence in the system, no matter how efficient that system is, its legitimacy is going to be called into question. If we are to talk about real quality of governance, then the people must take ownership of the systems and structures of governance,” he stated.
According to the Prime Minister, “local government reform must not only be about systems of participation but also about how do we get people to take greater responsibility. How do we broaden the framework of leadership and how do we get people to take ownership of what properly belongs to them.”
The five-day conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘Enhancing local governance in the Caribbean,’ concludes tomorrow (May 30), with the anticipated formulation of a regional policy and cooperation framework on a local government structure for the region.