$42M grant signed for Local Government reform project


As the government pushes forward with the process of local government reform, Finance Minister Winston Jordan today signed a grant valued US$218, 020 with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for the Capacity Building for Local Government Reform Project.

The signing, which preceded a workshop with technical representatives of the bank and the Communities Ministry, was held at Cara Lodge, Quamina Street, Georgetown.

The five municipalities selected for the project are Georgetown, Linden, Lethem, Bartica and New Amsterdam. According to Director of the Economics Department of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Justin Ram, the towns were selected based on unique challenges experienced.

The project will also look to decentralize public service delivery.

In his remarks at the opening of the workshop, Dr. Ram said: “As Guyana moves into an exciting future; Like the Government of Guyana, CDB believes that local government can be a key driver in transforming the economy.”

He added: “The discovery of oil reserves has the potential to accelerate economic growth but this growth must be managed carefully to ensure the maximum benefit to the Guyanese people.”

Ram said the success of the project will serve as an example to other CARICOM countries of how local government systems can work.

“We are optimistic that the local government project will be a vanguard and show what is possible in all of the Caribbean region. So we actually have a lot riding on this project; we actually are committed to showing that this project is a success because we would also like to see these successes benefit other countries in the region.”

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan posited that the project is a testimony to his administration’s commitment to good governance. He indirectly lambasted the previous administration for meddling in the work of local government authorities over the years.

“Our policy commitment acknowledges that the system of local government had been so damaged and degraded as a result of central government actions and activities over an extended period of time, during that period of the previous parliament that these organs had become largely dysfunctional,” Bulkan said.

The project will also review the current rate collection process including the requisite property value updates, as well as examine other avenues for revenue generation.

It will support a local structure that incorporates and considers the needs of vulnerable populations including women, children, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, marginalized groups and those disadvantaged by poverty and other circumstances.

Another component of the project will include possible legislative reforms and a synchronizing of existing legislation which govern the local democratic organs.

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