- Cabinet has approved the issuing of drafting instructions for the three strategic laws in the local government reform process.
- The legislation will facilitate the modernisation of the local government system in Jamaica.
- The proposed Local Governance Act was created by consolidating several existing acts and will introduce several new concepts.
Cabinet has approved the issuing of drafting instructions for the three strategic laws in the local government reform process.
These are: the Local Government Act, the Local Government and Financial Management Act, and the Local Government Unified Services and Employment Act.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, made the announcement as he addressed a Community Development Committees Conference held on Wednesday, November 13, in Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland.
He said that the legislation will facilitate the modernisation of the local government system in Jamaica and enable local authorities to more effectively respond to the citizenry.
“What this will do is allow for the local authorities to have more autonomy and be responsive to their citizens once these laws come into being. We still have some stages to go; drafting instructions will now be issued to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and so they will have to look at all the laws, cross check to see which one interferes with which law and so on. It will take a little time,” Mr. Fagan said.
He stated that the Government is serious about local government reform, and will be seeking to expedite the process by “engaging the services of some lawyers outside of what exists in government.”
The State Minister said that the proposed Local Governance Act was created by consolidating several existing acts and will introduce several new concepts and tenets which “better reflect a modern approach to local governance and would strengthen local self-management, making local authorities autonomous and responsive to their citizenry”.
“The primary focus is on issues of good governance, including accountability, transparency, inclusiveness and equity, local self-management, participation of civil society in the local governance process. The Local Governance Act is an important piece of legislation that will certainly facilitate the bid to identify additional means of driving local economic development, which will, in turn make a significant contribution to national economic growth. It will also allow for a certain level of independence … for local authority to tap into the communities’ powerful reservoir of energy and common sense for local economic development,” Mr. Fagan noted.
He said that effective governance was the pathway to economic development, both at the local and national levels.
“We pride ourselves on being a transparent government, a government for the people, by the people and as such, we will continue to forge ahead with plans/legislation that will see citizens getting more involved in the governance process,” he stated.
The conference staged under the theme: ‘The governance framework: the pathway to local economic development,” was part of a series being carried out across the island as part of Local Government and Community Development Month.
The events are organised by the Social Development Commission (SDC) and the National Association of Parish Development Committee (NAPDEC), through sponsorship from National Integrity Action (NIA).