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The National Advisory Committee on Local Government Reform has been given an additional four months to complete its work, said State Minister with responsibility for Local Government Reform in the Office of the Prime Minister, Robert Montague.
Speaking at a meeting of the Committee at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston on Thursday (Feb. 14), Mr. Montague said that the body, which was formed under the previous administration, has submitted an “interim report on local government reform”. He explained that the recommendations were combined with those of the Joint Select Parliamentary Committee on local government reform, and those outlined in the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) manifesto to form a document called a ‘Prototype of an Ideal Local Authority’, which was submitted to Cabinet in January for review and consideration.
“The committee had a series of islandwide consultations and it is (the feedback) from those consultations that formed the basis of the recommendations. They (committee members) had resigned at the change of the administration, but I invited them back, because the Government values the work that they did. I also asked that they complete their work, and they have been given four months to complete the work and produce a final document,” the State Minister explained.
The committee is being chaired by former Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Rex Nettleford.
Mr. Montague said that the submission is now before Cabinet, which is “actively considering” the proposal, noting that “the Prime Minister is very aggressive in his push for having the local government programme reform.”
In the meantime, Mr. Montague advised that some activities have already taken place under the reform programme. These, he said, include reinstating responsibility for payments for solid waste management, standpipes, and street lights to the parish councils.
“This has been done to increase service delivery, because the (former) Ministry (of Local Government) used to pay without any question on behalf of the councils. What we are now saying is that the councils need to validate the delivery of service before payments are made,” Mr. Montague said.