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The Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have collaborated to launch a manual for reporting on Local Government issues.

The 88-page manual, ‘Reporting Local Government Issues – A Manual for Jamaican Journalists’,  was developed by noted Communication Specialist and Adjunct Lecturer at CARIMAC, Claude Robinson.

It is intended for Jamaican journalists to use as a key resource as they focus more of their reporting on issues of accountability and transparency as well as other areas relating to local government reform. The document was done with the support of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development. 

Speaking at the launch, held at CARIMAC, today (December 7), State Minister in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, said the manual is a timely addition to the Local Government Reform process, as well as a critical means of strengthening relationships with civil society partners and the media, in the pursuit of more effective governance.

He said that the administration welcomes any partnership that proves beneficial to the people, especially when the standards defend openness, accountability, transparency and probity as well as provide the necessary tool that will allow the media to garner full and balanced material and content on which to report.

Mr. Fagan pointed out that the Ministry is working to fast track the entrenchment of Local Government in the Constitution, as well as continuing to work with the Ministry of Justice to see the promulgation of three critical laws – the New Local Governance Act; the Unified Services Act and Local Government Financing & Financial Management Act.

"The critical upgrade of our laws and regulations will significantly streamline the local governance process and ensure greater efficiency and service delivery to our clients,” he said.

The manual was created as part of a larger UNDP-funded Jamaica project on ‘Building Civil Society Capacity to Support Good Governance by Local Authorities’, which was implemented between 2010-12. It had as one of its objectives, the improvement of media’s capacity to report on local authorities’ use of public funds.

New UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Dr. Elsie Laurence-Chounoune, said the project supported the GOJ in the Local Government Reform Process.

“In giving more autonomy to local authorities, there was a greater need to ensure that the authorities were able to handle their expanded powers competently and responsibly. The project worked at strengthening the capacity of civil society and public institutions to provide oversight of public expenditure at the local level,” Dr. Laurence-Chounoune said.

She noted too, that the UNDP’s initiative through this project fits into the wider efforts to rid Jamaica of corruption.

The manual was awarded first place in the Knowledge Fair of the 5th UNDP Global Anti-corruption Community of Practice in Brazil, last month.