11/28/2012 10:22 EST | Updated 01/28/2013 05:12 EST

Nova Scotia panel calls for overhaul of regional development authorities

BIBLE HILL, N.S. - An expert panel in Nova Scotia is recommending a new model for regional economic development.

The panel says the province should create six so-called Regional Enterprise Networks that would bring together the government, businesses, municipalities and other groups involved in economic development.

The new networks would replace the province's 12 regional development authorities, which will have their federal funding cut in May 2013.

The federal and provincial governments and municipalities had each provided about $2.1 million to pay for the regional authorities, first introduced in 1993.

Economic Development Minister Percy Paris says the new system is needed because Nova Scotia has recorded the worst economic growth of any province for the past 20 years.

Among other things, the new organizations would develop regional economic plans, introduce a new funding model and improve their performance standards and accountability.