JIS News

State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government Reform, Robert Montague, has said that the greatest challenge in the reform process is the human element, which involves the participation of the citizens.
He was delivering opening remarks at the Regional Local Government Consultation and Conference, at the Rose Hall Resort and Country Club in Montego Bay, on May 26.
“The greatest challenge that local governance faces is of the human element – the participation of our people in the process. Because, if you do not have an informed citizen, if you do not have a citizen who is willing to participate in the process.you could train until you are a professor in local governance, if the people are not at the centre, we do it at our own peril,” Mr. Montague said.
He cited other challenges in the process as: perception, political, economic, legal and financial, with particular reference to perception, as persons are of the feeling that the reform programme is for local government alone.
“We are not reforming local government, we are reforming local governance. Because local government speaks to the elected representative and the officers only in the municipalities, local governance widens the width, and brings on civil society, brings on the spiritual community, speaks to gender equity, and speaks to how we deal and treat with all the other sectors in the community,” he explained.
The State Minister said that how Central Government handles the decentralization process is what poses the political challenge in the implementation of the reform programme, adding that the suitability and conduciveness of the economic conditions in the country to drive the implementation process, is what will present the economic hurdles.
Mr. Montague argued that the legal challenge is presented by the legal framework within which the programme has to be implemented, while the financial challenge obtains in the current constraints.
He said that the staging of the consultation and conference presented an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences, focus on best practices across the region, and gain consensus on the next step of activities in improving local government administration in the local jurisdictions across the region.
The five-day conference is being held under the theme: ‘Enhancing Local Governance.’ It is jointly sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Some 150 delegates consisting of Local Government Ministers and administrators and senior government officials from 10 countries across the region are expected to participate in the meeting.