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Story Highlights

  • The Government is looking to review the building fees charged by municipal authorities with the aim of putting a standardised system in place, and ensure that the fees for development projects are in keeping with current realities.
  • Developers have long raised concerns about the fragmented nature of the fees charged by various local authorities and the resultant complications.
  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who met with the mayors, chief executive officers and chief engineering officers from the 14 municipal corporations at his Hagley Park Road offices on November 27, noted that “in nine out of 10 cases, the fees that we charge are considered outdated and don’t bear any real relevance to modern times”.

The Government is looking to review the building fees charged by municipal authorities with the aim of putting a standardised system in place, and ensure that the fees for development projects are in keeping with current realities.

Developers have long raised concerns about the fragmented nature of the fees charged by various local authorities and the resultant complications.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who met with the mayors, chief executive officers and chief engineering officers from the 14 municipal corporations at his Hagley Park Road offices on November 27, noted that “in nine out of 10 cases, the fees that we charge are considered outdated and don’t bear any real relevance to modern times”.

“Also, one of the handicaps surrounding the performance of the municipal corporations is lack of adequate funding. It is important, therefore, that we all understand and appreciate that the fees that we charge are critical to our survival, so an attempt must be made to maximise to its full potential the fees that are available and to have a serious review of the existing fee structure,” he added.

Minister McKenzie noted, for example, that the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) had not made any changes to the cell tower building fee since he demitted the office of Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrew in 2011.

As the same time, the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation’s fee for the same category was more than five times that of the KSAMC.

“I have been in discussions… with some mayors and there seems to be consensus around a standardised fee structure. Within that structure… you look at the parish based on its potential and then you would put those parishes at a certain category,” he said.

He noted that parishes with high potential for infrastructural investment would not be classified to charge the same amount for building fees as those parishes with lower prospects.

The Minister told the local government representatives that “if we are to get the general acceptance for the increases in the rates, it means that there has to be an improvement in the service”.

“Whilst we are at 80 per cent delivery in terms of the approval process, there are other aspects of the process that still need significant improvement… . So while we are contemplating the fees, we must also place, in the deliberation, areas on how to improve the service to the public,” he noted.

The result of the series of discussions between Minister McKenzie and the local authority representatives will form part of the general fee restructuring that includes the suggestion of grouping the fees charged by agencies such as the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the National Works Agency (NWA).