23 million dollar CARILED project launched by T&T PM while in Belize

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Belize hosted a major Caricom meeting and a three-day forum that saw the launching of a $23 million dollar project by the Trinidadian Prime Minister Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is an organization of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. CARICOM’s main purposes are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy.

The three-day event saw the Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) forum which drew the participation of the Commonwealth Secretary General His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, Ministers of Local Government of the Caribbean, Local Government Leaders and representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The event took place from Wednesday, May16th and ran through Friday, May 18th at the Princess Hotel in Belize City and was hosted by Minister of Local Government Hon Senator Godwin Hulse and former Mayor of Belize and outgoing Chair of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) Zenaida Moya.

For the Caribbean nations, including Belize, the event was huge, especially since a $23 million dollar project was launched under CARILED. It is an initiative that received funding from Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Canadian Government.  The monies are to be utilized within CARICOM to develop skills and expertise for young and small entrepreneurs during a six-year period. During the opening ceremonies Hon. Hulse said that “Improving the lives of the citizens and those we govern, both in their basic living conditions and their economic well-being, is then the goal. We must continue to promote democracy and decentralization of authority. Central Government may devolve considerable authority to the local authorities, dependent on the capacity of such authorities, to manage the responsibilities. This program is about that, but the concept of a local government managing the economic development is as far-fetched as getting to the moon for small countries. And so the CARILED Program aims to do just that. So then we, how do we get local authority involved in the economic development, which would bring more taxes and jobs, etc. in the area?”

In addressing the forum, Moya explained that the CARILED project is geared to foster and improve on the local economic development in each municipality through an expanded relationship between private sector, and the city and town councils. ‘We see the CARILED project as one in which we will bridge this further partnership between the private sector and the local government. It defines local economic development as a process which brings together different partners in a local area to work together, and harness local resources for sustainable economic growth and development” said Moya.

After her courtesy call on Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Trinidadian Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who is the patron of the Commonwealth Local Government Fund, unveiled and launched the initiative under CARILED. “This project is one in which we have received $23 million dollars from CIDA – the Canadian Government, with respect to the development unit. The money is to be utilized in the CARICOM region for young, small entrepreneurs to develop skills and expertise in those areas. So I think that it is a very important project, and it was useful for us to launch it here, in a CARICOM nation, with your own prime minister,” expressed PM Persad-Bissessar.

For his part, in addressing the forum at the end of the third day His Excellency Sharma said the meeting was productive. “All of my meetings were engaged and informative, and afforded the opportunity to gain an up-to-date perspective of how the Commonwealth’s work is viewed and how we may be of greater assistance and relevance to all Belizeans. I was pleased to participate in that Board meeting, which has been generously hosted by the Government of Belize. The Commonwealth is committed to assisting Belize in continuing to strengthen its impressive culture of democracy and pluralism. Belize is richly endowed with human resources and natural resources, and the Commonwealth is also committed to assisting Belize to unlock these resources and this potential in order to achieve economic growth and development for the nation.”  Sharma also made a courtesy call on PM Barrow and Leader of the Opposition Hon. Francis Fonseca.

During the CARILED forum, Minister of Local Government and Community Development in Jamaica and the Chairperson of the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Minister Hon Noel Arscott gave his full fledged support to new initiative being undertaken by CARILED.  The Caribbean Association of Small and Medium Enterprises also gave its commitment to assist the initiatives being promoted by CARLED despite the common challenges facing the sector.

Mayors from all over the country including the Mayor of San Pedro Daniel Guerrero attended the event. Moya handed over her duties as Chair to the new Chairperson of CLGF Mayor Lawrence Ewle from New Zealand. Belize was represented at the major events by the Deputy Prime Minister Hon Gaspar Vega.

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