Sen. Hon. Godwin Hulse Chairs Seminar (photo courtesy Ruben Campos)

Belize will be one of several Caribbean countries to benefit from a multi-million dollar project geared at enhancing local economies by providing support to small and medium size enterprises.

The Caribbean Local Economic Development Program is a six-year $23.2 million project in which local governments will utilize assets and human capital to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and develop the business sector. CARILED is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and being implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), in partnership with the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Ministers (CFLGM), the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA) and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLFG).

Belize hosted a one-day CARILED seminar at the Princess Hotel and Casino on Wednesday, May 16. Carl Wright, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, and numerous representatives of local government from across the Caribbean and Commonwealth were in attendance. Senator Godwin Hulse, Minister of Local Government, chaired the meeting. Belize welcomes the project because it will allow the Ministry of Local Government and individual municipal governments to promote entrepreneurship in a time when Belize is slowly recovering from the blow of the global economic crisis.

The entire region has suffered in recent years and experienced steep declines in economic growth due to the global economic crisis, natural disasters, high food and fuel prices. It is due to that fact that CARILED has been developed. Marie Legault, Counsellor and Head of Aid for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA, Jamaica), presented on the objectives of CARILED. She said that CIDA's aid to this region is focused on sustainable economic development and providing developmental opportunities for women and children.

CARILED will impact three levels of governance: regional, national and municipal. The first is at the regional level with collaboration between the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Ministers, the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and related organizations. At the national level, central government will receive technical assistance to help with strategic planning. At the municipal level, a healthy partnership will be developed between the local governments, non-governmental organizations and private sector associations.

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, visited Belize to take part in the official launch of the program. CARILED's headquarters will be located in Trinidad and Tobago. Persad-Bissessar will also participate in the Commonwealth Local Government Forum Annual Board Meeting on Thursday, May 17. The CLGF recently nominated her as an Honorary Patron of the CLGF alongside the President of Uganda H.E. Yoweri Museveni and the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Gaspar Vega, spoke at the launching ceremony. He said that Belize is extremely proud to host the launching of a project that will provide relief and upliftment for the people of the Caribbean.

The Guardian