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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 09:09 PM AST

Canada to invest $23.2M in Caribbean project

Canada will invest CDN$23.2 million in a Caribbean-based project, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced in Belize on Wednesday. "The project would not have been possible without the generosity of the Canadian International Development Association (CIDA) who provided 23.2 million Canadian dollars to make CARILED a reality," she said at the launch of the programme in Belize.

The Prime Minister of the country where the Caribbean-based regional project office will be based said her Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma "has already identified an initiative that is up-and-running in Trinidad and Tobago which would be an excellent fit for CARILED."

Funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), CARILED is a six-year project, from 2012 to 2017, that aims to stimulate sustainable local economic development in the Caribbean region by providing local government authorities in the Caribbean with "the support they need to further create and sustain a supportive environment for micro, small and medium sized enterprises," the Federation of Canadian Municipalities says on its website.

Not another loan facility, CARILED will instead focus on helping to "strengthen the competencies of local government authorities in order for them to encourage and support existing businesses, attract new ventures, and put in place services, plans and strategies that meet their needs."

The following is the full address by the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister.

It’s hard to believe that it was only about a year ago in March, 2011 that I was in Cardiff, Wales speaking at the CLGF as the then Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth.

At that meeting I expressed my hope that the Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) programme would come to fruition as it was still in the early planning stages.

Today, just over a year later, I am pleased to say that it did indeed come to fruition and it is my honour to officially launch the CARILED programme.

I am also delighted that CARILED is a concrete expression of the policies agreed under the Cardiff Consensus for Local Economic Development which was formally endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government at CHOGM 2011 in Perth, Australia.

CARILED objectives

It is envisioned that this regional programme will promote local economic development across the Caribbean in several ways.

Firstly, it will build local capacities and competencies in the area of local economic development through pilot projects in six target countries.

It will also offer direct technical expertise and support to micro, small and medium enterprises in these target countries in order to revitalise and stimulate local economic growth.

Importantly, CARILED will also work towards developing and strengthening national policy and legislation relating to local economic development.

In this way, the programme will be able to identify best practices and learn how to deal with the challenges to local economic growth that are specific to this region.

These lessons learnt can later be shared with other Caribbean countries so that as a region we can learn together, and grow in socio-economic strength together.

Acknowledgement of CARILED partners

As we all know, the six-year CARILED programme will be implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in partnership with the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Ministers (CFLGM), the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA) and the CLGF.

The project would not have been possible without the generosity of the Canadian International Development Association (CIDA) who provided 23.2 million Canadian dollars to make CARILED a reality.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank CIDA and all of the partnering organisations once more for their dedication in following through on this initiative.

Intra-Commonwealth collaboration

The realisation of CARILED clearly demonstrates what can be achieved through intra-Commonwealth cooperation and by harnessing the many opportunities afforded to us as Commonwealth member countries.

Collaborating with our fellow Commonwealth nations and engaging with the various Commonwealth agencies opens the doors to new possibilities for economic growth and development.

What we cannot do on our own, we can do together.

This is what it means to be part of the Commonwealth family.

CHOGM 2011 theme

The CARILED initiative is a concrete example of how Commonwealth agencies and nations can partner to achieve what was outlined in the CHOGM 2011 theme Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience.

We are all aware of the detrimental impact of the global financial crisis on the Caribbean region.

The only sure path to recovery from the global recession is to focus on sustainable economic growth and development.

And how is this achieved? By focusing on stimulating our local economies, by motivating our MSMEs and by doing all that we can to facilitate entrepreneurship at the smallest level.

This is the task of local government.

This is how we will build national, regional and global resilience to withstand the fluctuations of today’s highly volatile economic climate.

Trinidad and Tobago support of CARILED

Having served as Chair-in-Office from 2010 to 2011 I was given a new appreciation of the vast potential of the Commonwealth in this respect. I saw the enthusiasm and dedication of the Commonwealth bodies.

I saw the many ways that my country could benefit if we seized the numerous opportunities the Commonwealth offers in terms of technical support and guidance.

Trinidad and Tobago is deeply invested in CARILED and my Government is committed to ensuring that the programme is effectively implemented through active partnerships with our local government bodies and my Ministry of Local Government.


As such, it is my distinct pleasure to announce that CARILED’s Caribbean-based regional project office will be in Trinidad and Tobago.

Along with Canada, other Caribbean countries and several Commonwealth partners, Trinidad and Tobago will also offer in-kind contributions to CARILED to facilitate its work over the six-year period.

CLGF Honorary Patronage

The CLGF has also recently bestowed upon me the honour of becoming a CLGF Honorary Patron together with the President of Uganda His Excellency Yoweri Museveni and UNDP Administrator the Right Honourable Helen Clark.

This is not only an honour for me, but also for Trinidad and Tobago. It will be a privilege to lend my support to the CLGF as a Patron.

I am pleased that in Perth, Commonwealth Heads recognised the need for closer cooperation between the Commonwealth Secretariat and key associated organisations like the CLGF.

This mandate needs to be built upon, particularly in the context of the Aberdeen principles on local democracy and good governance which are a core component of the 2009 Trinidad and Tobago Affirmation on Commonwealth Values.


I will do my utmost to fulfil this mandate by strengthening the CLGF’s presence in Trinidad and Tobago through initiatives such as:
- CARILED;
- the EU-supported ARIAL programme on local government capacity-building also initiated by the CLGF; and
- further regional initiatives which the CLGF is currently planning in cooperation with partners such as the IDB and UNDP.
- CARILED and the Regional Planning Programme in T&T

My Minister of Local Government the Honourable Chandresh Sharma has been mandated to engage with the CLGF wherever possible as my Government strives to fortify our local government structures throughout the country.

To this end, Minister Sharma has already identified an initiative that is up-and-running in Trinidad and Tobago which would be an excellent fit for CARILED.

It is Trinidad and Tobago’s Regional Planning Programme which aims to introduce a comprehensive and integrated approach to project identification, selection and implementation.

The Planning Programme’s primary objective is to develop municipal regions beyond the infrastructural level, based on the needs of the area and through the harnessing of the region’s natural assets.

Fourteen (14) Municipal Development Plans have already been successfully completed to guide project selection and implementation in each of the respective fourteen Municipal Corporations.

Partnership with CARILED would complement the Regional Planning Programme and aid in the execution of its activities.

I look forward to seeing this particular collaboration flourish and I have no doubt that there will be many more opportunities for such partnerships between CARILED and my Ministry of Local Government.

Value of local government

The overwhelming support for CARILED from my fellow CARICOM members and my own Government is evidence that we, as a region, have recognised the need for a new approach to protecting our economies and our citizens.

Local government, for a long time, has been considered an appendage to central government.

Thankfully, this misguided and detrimental attitude is now changing.

Governments are now acknowledging that building a resilient economy is much like building a house.

You must have a strong foundation or else it can all come crashing down.

Local economies are the bricks upon which strong, sustainable national economies are built.

Each community and municipal corporation represents an essential building block that must be supported and energised by local government bodies.

It is therefore critical that they receive the necessary provisions, financial, technical and otherwise, that will allow them to meet the needs of the people and facilitate local economic development.

It goes without saying that local government is at the heart of democracy.

It is government at the most accessible level and the surest way to gauge where and how central government may be falling short.

I for one have experienced first-hand the challenges that local government authorities face. I began my political career as a councillor in a Regional Corporation in a rural part of Trinidad.

So believe me, I know the difficulties.

But I have also seen is what local government can do for communities; how it can act as a driving force behind MSMEs and lead local economies to blossom.

So, once again, I would like to reaffirm Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment to strengthening local governance.

Follow through from CHOGM 2011

I would also like, once more, to congratulate the CLGF, its Secretary-General Mr. Carl Wright, and all of the partner organisations, particularly CIDA, for making CARILED a reality.

It should fill all of us with a sense of pride to see the Commonwealth as a dynamic and proactive organisation.

Just last October at CHOGM in Perth, Australia the CHOGM Communiqué stated that there was a need to respond to citizens’ needs at the most localised level.

Commonwealth Heads endorsed this view, supporting and upholding the importance of local government for advancing sustainable socio-economic development and growth.

With the launch of CARILED here today, the CLGF has shown that the Commonwealth is not about talk, but about action.

The need for a more localised approach to development was identified, and that need is now being met.


Conclusion

Some time ago I heard a quote by Mr. Henry Ford, the American auto magnate. It was simple and true, and really resonated with me.

He said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what local government is all about: ensuring that we advance sustainable economic development is not hard if we invest in our local economies.

Start there.

Start with communities.

Start with MSMEs.

Start with Municipal bodies.

If we strengthen local government and stimulate our local economies, the broader task at hand will become that much easier.

We will build resilient and stable national and global economies.

We just have to focus on getting our foundation in order and on making sure that our building blocks are solid and in place.

And it is here that CARILED will prove indispensable; an invaluable tool in our efforts to bolster and stimulate local economies across the Caribbean.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you and may God bless you.




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CREDITS:

- Photo 1 from the FCM

- Photo 2 from the Office of the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister

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