JIS News

A three-day regional symposium on ‘Local Democracy and Good Governance in the Caribbean’ got under way on Monday (April 19) at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay.
The Symposium is being staged under the auspices of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), a membership organisation bringing together associations of local government, individual councils and ministries of local government from across the Commonwealth.
Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sports, Portia Simpson Miller chaired the symposium, which had more than 100 delegates in attendance.
In her remarks, Minister Simpson-Miller observed that with the collective capabilities represented at the symposium, it could well be a turning point in the development of a new paradigm for local democracy in the region. She insisted that the symposium should end with a clear road map and the initiation of concrete action to achieve its stated objectives.
“We are intent on making local government work, and the signs of the times indicate that there is no time to lose. Throughout the Caribbean region, there is increasing popular interest in issues of decentralisation; enhancing local government and the empowerment of communities.
There is a social pressure for citizens to have greater and more direct participation in the process of governance,” she said.
Mrs. Simpson Miller emphasised that most Caribbean governments were party to international treaty agreements and declarations, under which they had made commitments to adopt or advance the concepts of local democracy, participatory governance, and local sustainable development, within their respective countries. She added that these very impressive and promising commitments and agreements would end up being mere words on paper, without sustained action to ensure decentralisation, strong local government, community empowerment and citizen participation in governance.
“The regional commitment to local democracy should come from the shared conviction that our model of governance must allow citizens to be involved in policy making decisions, which affect their daily lives. Communities must have substantial control over the management of their own affairs and own destiny,” she stated.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, Winston Cox, in his address stated that the difference between this symposium and earlier meetings, was the breadth of representation, including the presence of Ministers of Local Government and other stakeholders.
“We have come to the conclusion that it is only when all these partners come together that there can be real progress in local democracy and good governance. This symposium therefore has the potential to make a significant input to the development of democratic local government in the Caribbean,” he said.
The Regional Symposium on Local Democracy and Good Governance in the Caribbean is being held under the theme “Making Local Government Work.”

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