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  • These are: the Local Governance Act; the Local Government Financing and Financial Management Act; and the Local Government (Unified Services and Employment) Act.
  • Mr. Arscott said the legislation will facilitate the modernisation of the local government system in Jamaica.
  • The laws are a major step in adding legal authority to the role and functions carried out by the authorities.

Cabinet has issued drafting instructions for three strategic laws, which are pivotal to the process of local government reform.

These are: the Local Governance Act; the Local Government Financing and Financial Management Act; and the Local Government (Unified Services and Employment) Act.

This was revealed by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, while addressing the launch of the governance thematic working group, at the Ministry’s Hagley Park Road offices, on December 17.

Mr. Arscott said the legislation will facilitate the modernisation of the local government system in Jamaica and enable local authorities to more effectively respond to the citizenry.

He said the laws are a major step in adding legal authority to the role and functions carried out by the authorities, which will allow them to operate within a new governance framework and become more responsive to its citizens.

“It also creates the context for the legitimate expectations of citizens for higher levels of service delivery, which is dependent on how an organisation is structured to provide those services,” Mr. Arscott pointed out.

The Minister also informed that the draft of the Bill for the inclusion of local government in the Constitution is being reviewed by the Ministry, having received the second draft last week.

“Similarly, the progress made through our collaboration with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel in finalising drafts of the new National Building Bill, is another step in demonstrating more effective governance of the built environment at the level expected in a 21st  Century environment,” Mr. Arscott said.

In the meantime, the Minister said the formation of the governance thematic working group is geared at ensuring that the strategies and programmes identified for action under the Medium Term Socio-Economic Policy Framework for 2012-2015, are achieved.

The group comprises representatives from a number of public and private sector organisations and has responsibility for coordinating and monitoring activities related to national outcome number six – Effective Governance – under the Vision 2030 National Development Plan.

“Having the Ministry of Local Government lead this group is most appropriate, because of the number of strategic priorities that have direct relevance to the portfolio responsibilities of this Ministry,” he said.

Minister of State in the Ministry, Hon. Colin Fagan, said he anticipates that the guidance to be provided by the group on policy and strategy related to the governance thematic areas of focus, will result in a better governance structure.

“This structure will enable citizens to be more involved in the governance process. This will, in turn, strengthen and safeguard democracy, promote equal rights and social justice, as well as create a framework in which the creativity and talents of the total Jamaican people can be fully expressed and geared toward solving local problems as well as national issues,” he said.

For his part, Programme Director, Vision 2020 Jamaica Secretariat, Richard Lumsden, added that the PIOJ, in its role as national Secretariat for Vision 2030 Jamaica, pledges its technical, logistical and Secretariat support for the operation of the governance thematic working group.

He informed that to date, the PIOJ has established some 11 thematic working groups in a wide range of areas, including education and training, health, justice and national security.

“We welcome the formation of this group as an important step forward in supporting the implementation of priorities, strategies and actions for effective governance in Jamaica in the medium and long term,” Mr. Lumsden said.