12-Month Extension for Full Implementation of Local Government Reform


The Government has extended by 12 months, the time frame for the full implementation of the recommendations for Local Government Reform.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague, speaking at the second in a series of island wide Town Hall meetings on May 26 at the Portmore HEART Academy in St. Catherine, said that the 24 months timetable, set aside by Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, was not sufficient time to implement all the recommendations.
“The Prime Minister mandated that we would have 24 months to complete the implementation of all the recommendations that are outstanding. By September of this year, we wanted to complete the implementations (but) we have been overtaken by circumstances and the Prime Minister has given me an additional 12 months to complete the implementation of the recommendations,” Mr. Montague said.
He noted, however, that the measures are being put in place and the ones left to be done, have to deal with the legal anchoring of local government. The State Minister pointed out that local government is not included in the Constitution and one of the proposals is for the entrenchment of the system. He informed that the draft recommendations to facilitate this process have already been completed and are under review by the Attorney General.
In addition, he indicated that 14 of the 82 Acts of Parliament, which deal with the local government process, will be repealed, in order to give the system the proper legal framework on which to operate.
“There are some 82 Acts of Parliament that impact on local government and within those Acts, there are confusions and overlapping. Sometimes, people do not know their roles and functions within the local government process and, as such, it is therefore proposed that we will repeal 14 of those Acts and roll them into three Acts,” he informed. The three Acts are the new Local Government Act, Local Government Financing Act and the Unified Service Act.
The State Minister in the meantime, commended the residents of Portmore for their participation in the Local Government Reform process, and urged other Jamaicans to play their part.
“The (Parish) Councils are engaged in a 20-year sustainable development plan and we must commend the citizens of Portmore, because through their Citizens Advisory Council, they are leading the rest of the island in terms of citizen participation in the Local Government Reform process,” he stated.
“For the whole Local Government Reform to work, it is dependent upon the participation of our citizens. The Council meetings are open to the public and we are therefore urging persons to attend these meetings and play a critical role in the reform,” he urged.
The primary objective of Local Government Reform is to create a strong, viable and effective system of Local Government, which will deepen the democratic process and facilitate the empowerment of citizens, by enabling them to participate more fully and directly in the process of governance and in the management of their own affairs.
This reform period, which started in 1993, will provide more autonomy, resources, and greater responsibility to local authorities island wide.

JIS Social