“Local government -- particularly in developing countries -- is about transforming societies” - Secretary-General Don McKinnon
27 March 2007
Democracy and strong leadership in local government are vital for developing communities
Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon has said there is need for a harmonious working relationship between local and central governments in order to deliver development to communities.
Speaking in Auckland, New Zealand, at the 4th Commonwealth Local Government Conference on 27 March 2007, Mr McKinnon also emphasised the role of local democracy in all Commonwealth countries in transforming societies.
“Local government -- particularly in developing countries -- is about transforming societies,” the Secretary-General said.
Mr McKinnon stated that for most people in the Commonwealth, local government is the first contact with the authorities, and as such deserves to be strengthened and adequately funded by the central government.
“There is no point in devolving responsibilities to local government unless there are funds to match -- funds which are timely, predictable and based on agreed formulas,” he said.
“Local government still has to codify its relationship with central government -- ideally by law. The two have to demarcate roles, especially over the functions that are exclusive, shared, and those that are discretionary.”
The conference, held by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, brought together local government leaders, ministers and senior officials from across the Commonwealth to discuss the theme ‘Delivering Development through Leadership’.
The Secretary-General is in New Zealand for a five-day official visit from 26 to 30 March.
In Auckland, he also spoke at the Orewa Rotary Club where he emphasised the role of the Commonwealth in modern times. He noted the relevance and relationship of the Commonwealth to New Zealand.
Mr McKinnon thanked the country for making generous contributions to the Commonwealth, but also stressed that New Zealand benefits from its membership of the association.
“New Zealand is a donor to the Commonwealth in gross terms, but a beneficiary in net terms,” he said, adding that “Commonwealth membership makes this country a member of the worldwide community of values.”