Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, says the Government is moving “full speed ahead’ with local government reform.
He said that three pieces of legislation, to facilitate the process, are to be fast tracked. These are: the Local Governance Act, the Local Government Financing and Financial Management Act, and the Human Resource Management Act.
“We are working assiduously to ensure that the proper legislation is in place and we are trying to see if we can fast track it in the 50th year of our anniversary,” Mr. Arscott said on April 4, at a special meeting with mayors and deputy mayors held at the Ministry’s Hagley Park Road offices in Kingston.
He informed that the Ministry will be embarking on a local economic development programme in various parishes, which will “ensure that the local economies are stimulated and that the development of local industries will thrive under the local government system”.
Minister Arscott charged the mayors and their deputies, to ensure that the sanitation, cleanliness and appearance of the towns are addressed as high priorities.
“The entire country is probably now being regarded as a tourism destination and we can’t have tourist coming into a beautiful airport and then coming out to see the unpleasant sites and towns, so, therefore, even with the limited resources, one of the first tasks we have to do is to ensure the cleanliness of our cities and towns,” he said.
He also urged the various local authorities to seek to attract investments within their towns.
“Eventually, you will be called upon to source a lot of your own funds. Many of you have started and many ideas have come. The Manchester Parish Council has already gone a far way in terms of having their parish development plan ready and tabled. We would like all your towns to become economic centres; the nucleus is there already and it’s for you to build on it,” the Local Government Minister said.
Turning to the role of the Social Development Commission (SDC), Mr. Arscott said the organisation is a critical part of local government and will be playing a more crucial role in community mobilisation.
Local government reform was initiated with the publication of Ministry Paper 8/93 in 1993 and was officially launched by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in 1995.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter