KINGSTON — Deputy Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Lee Clarke, wants the Local Government Reform process to meet a 2012 deadline.
In a statement to Tuesday's (August 9) monthly meeting of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) Council at Church Street, downtown Kingston, Councillor Clarke said that he was concerned that Jamaicans might not be able to celebrate completion of the process during next year’s 50th anniversary of independence celebrations.
“I am concerned that, after so much talk and negotiations and work, we are still not sure whether we will be able to celebrate the completion of the process, as one of the landmark achievements of our first 50 years of Independence, next year,” the Deputy Mayor said.
“But, we are insisting that Local Government Reform must be a priority for 2011/2012, and it must be one of the achievements we celebrate next year,” he added.
He called on the Minister of State who now has responsibility for the reform process, Hon Shahine Robinson, to meet, urgently, with representatives of the Local Authorities, to explain her position, in light of planned restructuring of the budget and the obvious need to cut spending.
He said she needed to address, what are the chances of the process being completed within the current financial year, and what are the possibilities of a compromise, in which case, some critical areas of control can be transferred to the Councils, to allow them to fulfill their most demanding obligations.
“Local Government has to be recognized as a separate and autonomous stakeholder in national development. It cannot continue like “Gentiles” feeding on the scraps that fall off the table of Central Government.
“There is a need to guarantee the security of the financial resources of Local Authorities, and increase the contribution of independent sources of income,” he said.
He said a modern legal framework for the viable operation of Local Authorities, including the authority to conduct their functions and responsibilities and to define the scope and power of Mayors, Councillors, Secretary Managers, as well as the financing of the Authorities and the management of their human resources, should be addressed urgently.
“In the current circumstances, most of us do not expect the whole thing to be completed at one time, but we should be able to, at least, transfer some of the authority from the Department of Local Government to the Local Authorities,” he explained.
By BALFORD HENRY, JIS Reporter & Editor