Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Caribbean local authorities coming together

09 May 2023

 

It was an honour and a pleasure for CLGF to be invited to attend the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA) meeting held in Port of Spain 5-7 May 2023.

 

This was CALGA’s first physical meeting since the pandemic and brought together local government representatives from the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Chaired by Alderman Anthony Roberts, President of CALGA, it was an excellent opportunity for leaders to come together to exchange around local government developments and projects in the region. The challenge of connectivity and the constraints of the flight and ferry services in the region was a matter of concern and colleagues from Port of Spain and Belize City indicated that this was an issue that they had raised at the recent Cities Summit of the Americas, held in Denver, USA.

Good governance

CLGF Secretary-General Lucy Slack provided a presentation on good governance, and accountability for effective development and also took the opportunity to highlight CLGF’s work in highlighting the importance of a greater focus on sustainable urbanisation across the Commonwealth, and the commitment of all Commonwealth member states to address this. She indicated that this is an important entry point for local government to call for greater local empowerment.

Government reform for improved services

The Minister of Rural Development and Local Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon Faris Al Rawi, gave the keynote address, sharing some of the key elements of the Government’s reform process to improve the services of local government, which will include reinstating local government’s property tax collection role and also rolling out digital services to make access to services easier. Dr Bishnu Ragoonath from UWI, who has been supporting CALGA since its inception, provided participants with a brief history of CALGA and its role in the region. CALGA had also organised a training session on institutional strengthening of local government systems, which was facilitated by Mr Anthony Watkins.

Women in local government

The final day of the meeting included a segment on women in local leadership and CLGF’s Secretary General facilitated a session on this, building on the outcomes of CLGF’s last regional meeting held in Barbados in May 2022. It was a chance to highlight the importance of equity in leadership at the local level, and the skills and capacities that all councillors and mayors of all genders need to deliver for their citizens. It was agreed to work together through the Commonwealth Women in Local Government Network, facilitated by Janine, Xavier-Cross who is based in Trinidad and Tobago, to develop practical tools and strategies to support more women in leadership across the region.   

Informal networking

Alongside the meetings, the CALGA team had also organised a number of social events and study visits to enable practitioners to meet and exchange more informally. The group was hosted at City Hall by the Mayor of Port of Spain, and in Sangre Grande and Port Fortin. CLGF is committed to continuing to strengthen our partnership with CALGA to support members in the region and the Secretary General and Sandra Singh, Regional Programme Manager also took the opportunity to meet with the EU Ambassador to brief him on CLGF’s work in the region.

 

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