ADDRESS TO BE DELIVERED BY
HON. GLORIA SHILLINGFORD
MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND GENDER AFFAIRS
ON THE OCCASION OF
LOCAL GOVERNMENT MONTH –
1st MAY 2013
Fellow Dominicans; it an honor and privilege to address you on the occasion of Local Government Month with the theme “Promoting Good Governance for Effective Community Management”.
Let me first of all salute the pioneers of the Local Government Movement, both past and present, who have paved the way for an enhanced system of local and democratic governance. Their commitment, dedication and hard work cannot go unnoticed and is indeed worthy of mention as we commence the observance of 2013 Local Government month.
I take the opportunity to single out people like deceased R.E Henry, who served for more than 45 years. In fact, he served until his death last year. Others like deceased Sylvester Joseph, 1st Local Government Commissioner; Anthony A. Scotland, 2nd Local Government Commissioner; and chairman like Mr. Harrison Edwards of Colihaut who served for 40 years until his passing. Ladies and gentlemen, those pioneers have contributed to the development of the Local Government system ensuring that there was a foundation laid to build on today, and a legacy for us to sustain.
I wish to take a moment to remember the two young men who lost their lives in a tragic accident recently in the Pond Casse area: Kirt Hector who served as a sitting Councillor on the Laplaine Village Council and a national coach; and Norran Jno Hope, football player. Our deepest sympathy to their families and loved ones.
For the past twenty-four year (24) years, the Division of Local Government in collaboration with the Local Authorities/Councils has been observing Local Government month. The month long event by design is meant to promote the concept of local government through the showcasing of the achievements of the system, and at the same time highlighting the role that it plays in local and national development.
In keeping with the main theme “Promoting Good Governance for Effective Community Management”, let me commend those who have been tirelessly working to ensure that local authorities and improvement committee govern their affairs effectively for the good of their respective communities. Let me call on each Local Authority to intensify and heightening their efforts during this Local Government month to say to the people of Dominica that the role played by Local Government is indeed significant to Dominica’s local and national development.
As we observe Local Government month, let me remind all of us of the important role which Local Authorities play and continue to play in our national development thrust. Good governance, accountability and democracy are tenets that start at the local authority as men and women are elected to serve their people at the community level. These persons are entrusted to manage the affairs of the community for the advancement of the community and the well-being of the people.
Local Government month is a time to show-case some of these best practices of these local authorities thereby saying to the community we can promote good governance and effective community management.
For Local Government month, I am aware that a number of activities, such as visits to school, radio addresses, clean-up campaigns, educational activities (quizzes), social and cultural events will take place Island wide during this May month of Local Government. I call on the full participation and involvement of all residents and members of Local Authorities. My sincere best wishes for success of all these activities.
Let this month of Local Government be also a time of reflection and recommitment to promote opportunity for residents to collaborate meaningfully to the decision making process at the local level; to make a greater effort to take social and economic services closer to the people who need them; to increase effective communication channels between central government and local communities; to further develop institutions capable of managing the development of their areas; and to single out leadership potential and make good use of exemplary leadership at the community level.
We recognized that our system of local government is well respected in the region and has been seen as a model for effective community management and so the activities planned for Local Government month also gives us the opportunity to review and come up with necessary recommendations for improving the administrative functions and operations of the local government system.
Efforts have been made at pursuing the local government reform agenda. A Reform agenda that seeks to ensure that the following is achieved for the overall enhancement of communities and by extension Dominica:
- The Development of a national Local Government Policy;
- Establishment of a Comprehensive Local Government Act; and
- Enactment of Harmonized by-laws for each group of Authorities.
As we celebrate this year’s Local Government Month, we can talk about the progress that has been made seeking to reform the Legislation that gives the Local Government System its “teeth” to operate in our process of national development. The Local Government Division staff has been working with a local Consultant Legal Draftsman to conclude the draft harmonized By-laws as well as the comprehensive Local Government Act. This will be further advance in the near future to ensure that Local Authorities have relevant and appropriate legal frameworks to function effectively within their respective communities.
I pledged my commitment to taking the necessary action in order that these By-Laws, Comprehensive Local Government Act and Policy become approved legal tools for further advancing Dominica’s Local Government System of operation.
As we celebrate and focus on Local Government for the month of May, I call on everyone to play their part in being supportive of the activities that will be put on by the various Local Authorities Island wide. I call on community members and households to be timely in the payment of their house rates which is one of the main sources of revenue for the councils. I call on Local Authorities/Councils (city, town, urban, village and Carib) to be assertive in providing avenues for residents to share knowledge, information and skills to assist you as Councilors in your work as leaders of the Community.
In times when resources a scares, let me encourage Local Authorities to develop smart partnership with other community based-organizations, the private sector and other non-government organisations in your pursuit at local development and community managment. As we continue to emphasize the need for Dominica to be clean, green and beautiful, one idea that is being promoted is the “Adopt a Block approach”. Residents, community based organizations, non-government organisations and others have been asked to “Adopt” a particular block or section of the community for major clean-up and beautification or any other intervention.
This smart partnership model has been proven as a successful model in achieving desired results especially at the grass roots/community level.
Let me assure you of my support, the support of my staff, in particular the staff of the Local Government Division. I applaud the work and effort of the staff of the Local Government Division as they work with Local Authorities to promote good governance for effective community management. Keep up the good work.
Let me wish the Local Authorities/Councils well in their activities during the month, and appeal to you to continue with the same sprit and vigour in bringing the desired development to your respective communities.
It is my pleasure now to declare Local Government month 2013 officially open. May the Lord bless each and everyone of you. God’s richest blessings be upon each of your respective Local Authority. God’s blessings be upon Dominica
I thank you.