CDB launches capacity building initiative for local government
With budgets and spending priorities adversely impacted by COVID-19, local government officials across the Region are getting some of the assistance they need to deal with this new financial reality.
On September 17, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) along with the Commonwealth Local Government Forum - Caribbean (CLGF - Caribbean) launched the Regional Capacity Building in Municipal Finances project with the first of several virtual consultations.
The technical assistance project will target up to 130 accounting and financial reporting officials from seven Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) of the Bank with active municipalities – Belize, the Bahamas, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
Municipal officials will receive training and support to enhance their skills in budgeting, resource mobilisation and expenditure management, with a focus on enhanced accountability mechanisms and inclusive governance practices, such as gender mainstreaming and social inclusion.
Speaking at the start of the first virtual consultation with officials in Saint Lucia, CDB’s Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division, Dr Darran Newman, underscored the reasons for the Bank’s involvement in municipal finance training.
“One may ask ‘why is CDB engaging itself in local government and specifically, municipal finances, at this time?’ A fair question. Municipalities play a key role in facilitating development and providing social and economic infrastructure to support economic development and improve the quality of life and well-being within communities,” said Dr Newman.
Velda Joseph, Saint Lucia’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice, Local Government and Empowerment welcomed the project as timely. She noted:
“Recently, this year we engaged the Cabinet of Ministers on a discussion on advancing local government reform and this is one of the recommendations that was made - [to] build the capacity resident in authorities to be able to adequately perform the task… ensuring that these councils are able to manage their finances and to collect and manage resources in a way that is accountable and in a way that is very transparent.”
Dr Newman added that in the wake of the global pandemic, this feedback CDB had been getting, suggested that this kind of support was now even more needed. She stated:
“As our BMCs seek to respond to the socio-economic setbacks and demands resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, they have signalled a renewed urgency to develop the capacity of their local government organs to manage limited or even shrinking resources.
The Bank, therefore, sees this as an opportunity to support this process in a robust manner by buttressing the technical capacity of those responsible for accounting and planning, [and] hence empowering them to better advise and support their leadership.”
The virtual consultations will be held for each participating country, giving senior officials the opportunity to shape capacity building by identifying the key priorities for their countries and municipalities.