JIS News

An annual Local Government Minister’s Award has been established, to be presented to the Parish Council, that has best demonstrated exemplary service, initiative and leadership in advancing the Local Government Reform agenda, and as a consequence, has provided a significant increase in the level of service to its citizenry.
This was announced today (November 6), by Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague, at the launch of Local Government Month (November), at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
Local Government Month, is being celebrated under the theme: Local Government Reform; putting governance in your hands.
Mr. Montague explained that a Selection Committee would seek to identify the Council, which has demonstrated a high level of performance in the following main areas: revenue realisation from own sources; revenue collection and accountability; framework for modernisation; and citizens involvement and participation in Local Government reform.
“Collectively, these four main criteria will demonstrate a local authority’s commitment to ensuring that it is in a position to deliver the level of first class service its citizens demand and deserve,” Mr. Montague said.
He added that an award of $5 million would be presented to the Council or Local Authority, which has accumulated most points in the four areas identified, noting that there would be stipulations as to how the award would be spent.
“In keeping with our emphasis on community outreach, two community projects, for example, basic schools, skills training or homework centres, should be the recipient of $500,000; support to the existing Parish Development Committee will be $250,000; at the Mayor’s direction, for the benefit of the parish, $1.5 million will be disbursed; the Parish Council will be the recipient of $2 million; support for indigent housing in the parish will be $500,000; and staff welfare, $250,000,” he noted.
Mr. Montague said there must be a strong, well understood relationship between Central Government and Local Government, but Central Government “must necessarily, tackle the big picture, in terms of national development.”
“At the local level, we are setting out to demonstrate the power of collective and collaborative self management, as Parish Councils and community stakeholders interact in the process of local decision making,” the State Minister said.
“The result can only be stronger involvement among community members in activities which affect them, and an increased sense of collective responsibility, to see that governance is strong and all parties accountable for results,” he added.
Mr. Montague emphasised that taxes and fees must be seen to work for the benefit of the people, and the service ethic among local representatives and officers, must be strong. He also stressed that service delivery must be first class, whether it be health, sanitation, safety, welfare, water, solid waste management, fire prevention, rescue and all that falls under the portfolio of Local Government.
He challenged the Parish Council members to “put your shoulders to the wheel, roll up your sleeves, stop being just Mayors and Chairmen of Councils, and become the managers of the affairs that citizens elect us to be.”