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State Minister with Responsibility for Local Government Reform in the Office of the Prime Minister, Robert Montague, has said that Jamaica will benefit significantly from its participation in the Fifth Commonwealth Local Government Conference, held in the Bahamas last week.
Speaking at a press conference at the Department of Local Government on Hagley Park Road in Kingston on Thursday (May 21), Mr. Montague said that Jamaica stands to benefit from in excess of $1 billion in assistance, among other support for the local government process, arising out of discussions with international agencies.
“We signed off for a Caribbean governance project with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), a programme for $1.3 billion or C$20 million. We are (also) being summoned to a meeting in Washington with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on June 8 to discuss a programme we submitted for some US$5 million in grant funding to be accessed by the local authorities,” he said.
“Additionally, our discussions with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is yielding some US$200,000 for the development of our parish development committees, and Mandeville is being singled out as the pilot in this programme,” he informed.
Mr. Montague further disclosed that technology giant, Microsoft, has agreed to donate software capable of tracking abductions, which will assist the police in these incidents, and cases of human trafficking, particularly involving children. He added that Microsoft will fund training of the police in the use of the software.
“Microsoft is also coming to do an assessment of Jamaica’s digital needs. We have asked them to look at and introduce some programmes that they have in Colombia, Chile, and Portugal, their student incentives programmes, where they begin to train students from an early age in software writing… (and) in the utilisation of the internet as a study tool. We would like to have our students participate in that,” he informed.
The State Minister pointed out that since returning from the Bahamas, he has received correspondence from persons, who have expressed an interest in establishing internet access points in Montego Bay, Trelawny, and Port Maria, to facilitate usage by citizens and residents in these communities, free of cost.
Councillors and administrators, Mr. Montague also informed, were also exposed to best practices across the Commonwealth, which included a good practice scheme funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). He explained that under this facility, Councils, which sign on, are guaranteed

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