Local Government and Local Development: Bridging the Gap through Critical Discourse: Evidence from the Commonwealth Caribbean

Eris D Schoburgh


Abstract

Local development, whether construed broadly as community development or more narrowly as local as economic development (LED) is not always associated with local government but rather is the purview of a central government department or agency in Anglophone Caribbean policy systems. However with the emergence of ‘local place - and people-oriented approaches’ to development that offer new propositions about how to respond to risks and opportunities brought by globalization, local government is seen increasingly as an appropriate institutional context in which to pursue short-range objectives, such as creation of market opportunities and redressing the disparities within national economies; as well as the long-range goal of social transformation.

A developmental role for local government raises two questions that form the central concerns of this paper: What are the institutional and organisational imperatives of a developmental role for local government? To what extent have these imperatives been addressed in reform? A critical analysis of local government reform policies in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica revealed substantive convergence around local development as an outcome of reform but also important divergence in the approach to achieving this goal which suggests the absence of a cohesive model. The paper argues for a new agenda in reform that links local government more consistently with a local development strategy. It asserts that such a strategy must incorporate gender equality, the informal economy and institutional organisational capacity in the process of transformation and as a basis for creating a local context in which all types of resources can be maximized in the process of wealth creation in a locality.

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