Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, says the administration is committed to fast tracking the entrenchment of Local Government in the Jamaican Constitution.
“Already, in order to fast track this commitment to the Jamaican people, the Ministry of Justice has issued drafting instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and we await the draft Bill,” Mr. Arscott said.
The Minister was making his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on June 26.
He informed that the strategic laws covering local governance, local governance financing and the management of human resources in local government are to be resubmitted to Cabinet shortly.
“We are promoting a transformed approach and renewed thinking of the relationship between local government and central government. Both levels of government will covenant with each other to enable transformation and greater autonomy of our communities and local authorities. We will aggressively work towards the promulgation of the three pieces of strategic laws,” Mr. Arscott stated.
He also noted that the government intends to enhance the capacity of local government institutions, including local authorities, with the recently concluded organisational review by Price Water House Coopers used as a template for authorities to develop the most relevant structure for effective service delivery.
“We will be exploring the possibility of undertaking a study to analyse the optimal range and scale of functions and services provided by the local authorities, based on applicable technologies, economies of scale and delivery modalities. Such a study could serve to inform the ongoing process of local government reform,” the Local Government Minister said.
In the meantime, Mr. Arscott said that the financing of local authorities bears a critical relationship with their ability to deliver effectively, services demanded by citizens.
“ One of the steps that we intend to take in establishing a financial base for local authorities is the review of the Parochial Revenue Fund, which is dedicated to the financing of local authorities and to expand it to include other revenue source,” the Minister said.
He added that it is equally important that local authorities demonstrate accountability and transparency in their financial management.
“We are already taking steps and will continue to enhance financial management systems in the local authorities, with particular focus on audit capacity and policy,” Mr. Arscott noted.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter