Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, says the government is committed to establishing long lasting partnerships among its Ministries, departments and agencies with international and private sector groups.
This, he said, is to improve safety and security in communities across the island, as well as continuing Jamaica’s development process.
“We have to recognise that we are all impacted by crime and violence and the active participation and intervention of Local Government is an absolute necessity in creating safer communities across the island,” he argued.
Mr. Arscott was making his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 26, under the theme: ‘A Mission with a Vision: Covenant for Transformation’.
He made special mention of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which has continued its partnership with the Ministry, through the ‘Enhancing Civil Society Participation in Local Governance’ Project, which seeks to address the subject of community safety and security as an emerging issue in local governance.
The programme promotes a distinct partnership between the local authorities and civil society, particularly the Parish Development Committees (PDCs), the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the Social Development Commission (SDC) and other key stakeholders.
The project began in April, 2011 and has since been working with six pilot parishes, including: St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, Westmoreland, Trelawny and St. Mary.
The main aim and outcome of the project is to support the creation of safe and secure communities based on the establishment of Parish Safety and Security Committees in the selected local authorities, with a view to expanding the best practices to all other parishes in due course.
Meanwhile, Mr. Arscott stated that the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) has provided grant funding through the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) to assist with the strategic orientation of the Local Authorities under the theme: ‘Consolidating the New Local Governance Paradigm: Challenges, Opportunities, and imperatives for the next three years’.
“This provides us with a great opportunity to engage our new Councillors and new Council Administrations in the renewed thrust in the revitalisation process,” he said.
The programme is being implemented on a regional basis over a two-day period for each region. The subjects cover a range of issues, including Local Economic Development, Community Safety and Security, the Local Authority as the Government of the Parish, and Communications Marketing in the new Local Governance Paradigm.
“The CFTC has also committed to fund a medium term programme that will support a more direct, deliberate and concentrated effort on capacity building, operational efficiency and broader accountability and transparency in Governance at the local level,” Mr. Arscott said.
The Minister expressed thanks to the CFTC for its contribution to Jamaica’s development process.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter