The Local Economic Development (LED) Programme has been adopted as a key portfolio responsibility of Local Government in Jamaica, and is stated as one of the priorities of Local Government Reform in the Government’s Revitalising Local Governance Policy. Under the LED Programme, local authorities (LAs) are expected, in collaboration with local stakeholders and relevant national external partners, to formulate and execute appropriate strategies and programmes for maximising local economic growth with impact on job creations and poverty reduction.
LED is therefore a process in which Local Authorities, working in close collaboration with relevant Central Government agencies and other stakeholders are able to mobilize and use primarily local resources, assets, institutions and human capital to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth and development in the local area, parish or region. An integral part of any LED approach is the development of community-based micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
Communities throughout Jamaica have already formulated well-articulated proposals for economic development initiatives in their communities. With technical assistance, support and incentives, some of these could be brought to early implementation while support systems are put in place to ensure a steady stream of community-based projects in the medium to long-term.
LED spearheaded by Local Authorities has the potential to contribute to quick and significant economic growth and job creation in Jamaica. Local Authorities play a significant role in promoting Local Economic Development within their respective jurisdictions.
At present there is strong international support for the concept of locally led economic development.
Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) Project
The Ministry of Local Government & Community Development has aggressively been seeking to secure funding for the LED Plan. Several international donor/funding agencies have indicated a willingness to explore ways in which they can support LED initiatives. Under this programme, the Government of Canada has approved a contribution of CAD$23.2 million to be used in the Caribbean over the next 6 years to support Local Governments in the region to engage in LED. Jamaica is one of the Caribbean countries selected.
The purpose of CARILED is to introduce and demonstrate to the Caribbean a new approach to economic development need not be driven by central Government but instead has local government agencies, local businesses, local stakeholders and community groups at the centre. The funding allocations are dependent on identified activities and projects in each country vis. financing of projects, capacity building and knowledge transfer. Estimated inflows to Jamaica over the Project period is CAD $2,006,670.
Funding resources include salaries for a National Country Coordinator (NCC) and five (5) Local Economic Development Officers (LEDOs) for two (2) years in each of the five (5) selected pilot parishes and support for the preparation of LED Parish Plans. The five (5) pilot parishes are Manchester, Westmoreland, St. Catherine, Kingston & St. Andrew and Clarendon. The unique circumstance of St. Catherine having a Parish Council and a Municipality and therefore, the need for two (2) LEDOs, has been resolved by Government assuming responsibility for the salary of the LEDO assigned to the Portmore Municipality. The NCC and the six (6) LEDOs have been hired, the latter assuming duties at the respective LAs on September 10, 2013. Orientation Workshops have also been held locally and in Trinidad for the respective officers.
Under the LED Programme, LAs in collaboration with local stakeholders and relevant national external partners, will formulate and execute appropriate strategies and programmes for maximising local economic growth with impact on job creation and poverty reduction in their respective parishes. Eleven (11) projects from the five (5) pilot parishes (Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine (including Portmore), Clarendon, Manchester, Westmoreland) have been identified for funding and have been presented for approval. The projects are related to Agri-Business, Clean Technology, Tourism and Business Development Services, and Environmental Sustainability. CARILED has committed funds for all projects presented and to date has approved funding for six (6) projects amounting to US$338,944.00. Additionally, the LAEPs which were completed for the six (6) pilot areas will contribute to the completion of LED Plans as well as LSDP for these areas. Furthermore, a CARILED symposium was convened for elected officials and LED workshop conducted for administrators from the LAs and PDCs, key officers from the SDC, Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) and other key interests to improve the knowledge base on the purpose of the LED.