“A Platform for Change in a Reformed Local Government System”
Feature Address by
Senator the Honourable Hazel Manning
To be delivered at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce
Friday March 14, 2008
Alderman Murchison Brown, Mayor of Port of Spain
Alderman Adrian Cabralis, Mayor of Arima
Mrs. Indra Furlonge-Kelly, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local
Mrs. Gemma Marcus, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government
Members of Council and CEOs of the Municipal Corporations
Mrs. Angella Persad, Senior Vice President of the Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
Mrs. Joan Ferreira, Chief Executive Officer, Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
Board Members of the Chamber
Members of the Head Table
Members of the Media
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
I must thank the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce for affording
me the opportunity to address today’s breakfast meeting. As an association that
represents the interests of hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs, yours is a
collective voice of influence and authority on the issues.
I believe that your many contributions towards building a better T&T are well-known and
well-documented. And I commend you. You have contributed to the economy, and the
government’s treasury. You have provided thousands of employment opportunities. You
have contributed generously to youth programmes through sponsorships and support of
education, the arts, sport and culture. You have continuously attempted to mitigate the
negative impacts of the ills affecting our society today. And here I would like to recognize
your Crime Stoppers initiative, which has had significant success.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago thanks you for your support. We anticipate
your continued assistance towards the development of our beloved country.
Guided by our Vision 2020 National Strategic Plan, our mission is to promote an
effective local government system. This plan will support national advancement, through
participatory governance, greater community involvement and global strategic
collaborations. Needless to say your partnership remains a key factor in these
endeavours and is warmly appreciated. This morning’s meeting is just one of the many
ways in which we can continue to sustain a very vibrant and meaningful relationship.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are aware, the Ministry of Local Government is in the
midst of its reform and decentralization programme. As such, we are in implementation
What this means is that we are moving ahead, guided by the principles of accountability,
transparency and effective governance. In order to ensure greater people participation in
all our initiatives, we have been engaging our Municipal Corporations in sound,
sustainable planning exercises. Our monthly meetings allow us to flesh out common
areas of concerns that ultimately impact on the quality and timeliness of our service
delivery. With this in mind, Local Government Reform is intended to share decision-
making authority and facilitate effective service delivery through the Municipal
We have identified several areas of responsibility for implementation of the reform. They
1. Facilities Management
2. Parks and Recreational Facilities
3. The Environment
4. Arts and Culture
5. Community Development/Services
Ladies and Gentlemen, whereas some of these areas do require the support of
Parliament, there are others that do not.
Consequently, the Ministry has taken action to implement those initiatives, some of
1. Local area and Regional Planning
2. Municipal Solid Waste Management
3. The removal of socially-displaced persons from our streets
4. Disaster Preparedness and Management
5. Public Health
6. Municipal Policing
7. The provision of modern accommodation for our Municipal Corporations
As you have heard this morning, the local area and regional plans of the Municipal
Corporations are currently being synchronized with the recommendations of the National
Physical Development Plan, Vision 2020 National Strategic Plan and the National
Cabinet has recently approved the Municipal Solid Waste Management Policy, Action
Plan and the contractual extension for existing garbage collectors for the period March 1,
2008 to February 28, 2009.
The new policy forms the required framework and strategies for developing and
implementing a sustainable solid waste management system in Trinidad and Tobago.
The operational plan encompasses the use of demonstration projects in all
municipalities. It would apply a phased approach to the gradual introduction of
separation of waste at source level.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we must reduce the volume of waste that is currently transported
to our landfills. One way to resolve this is to adopt an integrated approach that involves
all our stakeholders including the Environmental Management Authority and of course
SWMCOL. We must work together to change the long-standing attitudes and behaviours
that ultimately lead to more pollution and greater harm to our environment. We also
advocate greater private sector involvement in the entire process – There is indeed
entrepreneurial opportunities in the business of garbage through recycling methods, and
we shall be exploring these further.
Very soon, you will be hearing more about the Ministry of Local Government’s National
Clean-up campaign that is being developed with our partners. It will not be a one-off
intervention but a sustained programme with your cooperation being one of the critical
success factors. Our research has shown that many persons genuinely do not know how
to prepare their waste for disposal. On the contrary, those who do know, openly flout the
rules and regulations. Our programmes will specifically target these different individuals.
Another major concern of ours - and I am sure it is shared by all of you present this
morning – is the increasing number of socially-displaced individuals who make their
homes on the streets. This situation is an untenable one and to address this challenge,
the Ministry of Local Government, in collaboration with the lead Ministry of Social
Development and Social Services has embarked upon a plan of action to legally remove
The policy encompasses detainment, diagnosis and dispatch to centres for the socially
displaced. This will be achieved under the current Mental Health Act and involves inputs
from the Ministries of National Security, Health and the Attorney General’s Office.
Treating with this sensitive situation requires a kind and caring approach, but ultimately it
must be dealt with. Social Development will champion a Cabinet note to this effect
before the end of March 2008.
In this effort, we need your cooperation to sustain the initiative. While I am not
advocating any show insensitivity towards the dispossessed, we must adhere to the
pending advisories from the authorities.
The Ministry of Local Government is the first line of response in a disaster or crisis. In
order to respond in a timely manner to the needs of our burgesses, my Ministry has
begun the process towards establishing disaster management units at its head office
and at all fourteen Municipal Corporations. Relief efforts will be coordinated by these
units along with other State Agencies including:
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM)
Fire and Emergency Health Services
The Defence Force
And the Ministries of Works and Transport, Public Utilities, Social Development
to name a few.
These agencies would all assist on the ground with the various needs of the burgesses
in a crisis – for example, shelters, the supply of food, equipment and tools.
The issue of public health continues to be a challenge. Therefore the Ministry is paying
particular attention to this concern. At the local level, the Public Health Inspectorate
continues to manage the extermination of insects, rodents and the spreading of
diseases. They are challenged at times by a shortage of personnel in the regional
corporations and we have already started taking steps to address this.
We plan to rid our communities of dilapidated buildings and abandoned vehicles. How
can we break entrenched bad habits? How do we influence people to desist from
dumping garbage on vacant lots throughout the country? These are just some of the
issues that our aggressive social marketing and public education programmes will be
Local Government Reform speaks to the continued establishment and expansion of the
Municipal Police Service in the Corporations. We are currently ensuring that all
municipalities are adequately staffed with officers. Additionally, it is suggested that the
Municipal Police Service should be placed under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of
Police, and their duties would embrace the concept of community policing.
As part of our platform for change the Ministry of Local Government embarked on a
programme to upgrade and modernize the accommodation of all the Municipal
Corporations. Designs have been completed for:
Arima Borough Corporation
Chaguanas Borough Corporation and
Diego Martin Regional Corporation
I am pleased to inform you that all three sites have been selected; and already the
administrative complex for Chaguanas is under construction. The others are scheduled
to begin before the end of 2008.
Distinguished members of the Chamber, I view today’s interaction as a platform for your
cooperation in aiding the local government reform thrust. The experience you have
garnered over the past one hundred and twenty-eight odd years and the signal honour of
being the oldest Chamber in the region, qualify you as an exemplary organization. Your
contributions to the growth and development of our society are innumerable.
Today’s collaboration with my Ministry is testimony to the fact that only through our
collective efforts can we bring about the much needed change in the way we address
and redress the challenges in our country. This is exactly what participatory governance
is about – no one must be left out of the loop. Indeed, the concept of greater
inclusiveness and community involvement were deliberately woven into the Ministry’s
new slogan “Local Government…embracing all.”
Make no mistake; we recognize the value of our most precious resource – our people. At
the same time we are aware that in order for us all to benefit from a new way of doing
the business of the people, we need to take pride in ourselves, our communities and in
our country. We must engender patriotism in all that we do and at all times.
Captains of Industry, Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to get on board. Join with Local
Government and make this reform exercise the success that it can be as we move to the
I leave you with this challenge this morning. Thank you and may God bless us all.