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  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, is urging local authorities to put measures in place to improve collection of fees and taxes.
  • He said that improving revenue collection will not only enable local authorities to finance a greater portion of their operations, but also reduce the strain on central government.
  • The Local Government Minister also called on the Secretary Managers to effectively carry out their roles and ensure the highest level of integrity and transparency in their operations.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, is urging local authorities to put measures in place to improve collection of fees and taxes.

“What I think you need to increase is your ability to collect the revenue that is due that is out there.  If you can go out there and collect 30 – 35 percent of the revenue that is owing to the parish council you could have enough to do the things you want to do,” he noted.

Minister McKenzie was speaking at a meeting with Secretary Managers of the island’s parish councils held at the Ministry’s offices in Kingston on March 18.

He said that improving revenue collection will not only enable local authorities to finance a greater portion of their operations, but also reduce the strain on central government.

“We can enhance and significantly improve the quality and extent of the services we provide to our citizens without being a drain on central government, if we collect outstanding fees and taxes,” he said.

“This Government is driven by the need to create economic growth, and local government will have a critical contribution to make to national growth and development,” he added.

Relating his own experience, Minister McKenzie said that while he was Mayor of Kingston, he embarked on a drive to collect fees for licences, and after six months the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) improved its rate of collection from a mere $250,000 to approximately $25 million.

“Enforcement has to become an integral part of the council’s existence, so I’m asking you to make it one of your main targets (for collection),” he said.

The Local Government Minister also called on the Secretary Managers to effectively carry out their roles and ensure the highest level of integrity and transparency in their operations.

He said they should also familiarise themselves with the new laws governing local governance.

Parliament has passed legislation to entrench local government in the constitution and three strategic bills, which are pivotal to the local government reform process.

They are the Local Governance Bill, Local Government (Unified Service and Employment) Bill, and the Local Government (Financing and Financial Management) Bill.