…as reform project is launchedA plan aimed at improving and reorganising Guyana’s Local Government sector has been launched by the Ministry of Communities, in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).The ‘Local Government Reform Project’ will seek to build the capacity of the Communities Ministry, The Guyana Association of Municipalities (GAM), and the municipalities that support local democratic organs (LDOs), all while ensuring that they are better equipped to manage their respective obligations in an effective and efficient manner.The project would identify the necessary tools and resources that the various entities would need for reform, and would provide a decentralised approach to the delivery of public service and improvement of community participation in the local government arena.The project would also identify avenues for potential partnerships, collaboration and cooperation in hope of making a contribution to economic development.One of the dire areas highlighted is the Local Government’s reliance on Central Government for funding. This feature was deemed ‘inadequate’ for local government service delivery. Therefore, a main objective of the project is to branch off the available public resources, so that local government can be financially independent.Local Government was described as having the potential to become a key driver in transforming the economy for better, as noted by Dr. Justin Ram, Director of Economics at the CDB.“Local Government can be much more than a conduit for the provision of Central Government services. By being closer to local communities, it is better placed to find local solutions to local problems, freeing up Central Government to address the many national challenges it faces today and will face in future,” he stated at the launching.Additionally, the MoC/CDB project intends to incorporate vulnerable populations, such as women, children, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, marginalised groups, and those disadvantaged by poverty or other circumstances.On a similar note, Ram touched on the importance of youth in Government. “It will seek to address the difficulties that young people in Guyana face, and provide opportunities to better engage youth in the governance process,” he noted.Another component of the project would include possible legislative reform and a synchronising of existing legislation which govern the local democratic organs; and the programme also aims at reviewing the current rate collection process, including the requisite property value updates, as well as examine other avenues for revenue generation.A State Paper presented by the late President Hoyte to the National Assembly, titled “Reorganisation of the Local Government System in Guyana”, stated that, in their original construct, local authorities could not cope with the massive and complicated developmental demands of their respective areas, because the intrinsic design of the system presented legal, organisational and other inhibitors to any effort and ambition of the councils.Therefore, the Ministry’s overall mandate is to transform the local government landscape through capacity-building at all levels, to improve accountability and transparency, which would inevitably accommodate the transfer of greater autonomy and decentralisation.