JIS News

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague, has pledged millions in support to the Portmore Municipal Council to carry out necessary work in the municipality.
Addressing a special Council meeting in Portmore on July 30, Mr. Montague said he is willing to commit $25 million towards the construction of a municipal building. The office is currently housed at the Portmore Pines Plaza in Greater Portmore.
“Before we get there we need to have a design, we need to have consultation with the people, and therefore we can sign off next financial year, because I am of the firm opinion that Portmore deserves and needs a permanent municipal building,” he said.
He also pledged $5 million towards the cleaning of drains in that municipality, with an additional $1 million be allocated to the Mayor of Portmore, Keith Hinds, to be utilised at his discretion.
The State Minister further pledged $500,000 towards a programme to introduce a biological agent to reduce the mosquito nuisance in Portmore. He said that the money would be handed over if, after consultation with the Fisheries Division and the Ministry of Health, the project is deemed suitable for Portmore.
Regarding Local Government Reform, Minister Montague informed that the Department of Local Government, is about to take to Cabinet for drafting instructions, three Acts, which will define what is a local authority, and the roles and functions of Councillors, “because we realise that Councillors don’t know what they are supposed to do, nor their responsibilities, and therefore, Councillors are taking on things that they ought not to be taking on.”
“We are therefore going to be repealing 14 pieces of legislation in order to repeal three Acts of Parliament. We have just completed work on the Councillor’s handbook that will put in the hands of each Councillor, a reference guide,” he stated.
On another matter, Mr. Montague, informed that the Department is moving to amend the regulations regarding property tax, so that if taxes are not paid after a certain prescribed period, the property will be put up for sale.
He said that property tax compliance is of great significance, because if property tax collection is increased, then the Community Development Fund (CDF) is also increased, as 10 per cent of those taxes go to the municipal council for community development. “So, if you don’t collect the taxes, you have no CDF,” he emphasised.
Additionally, the State Minister noted that the Department of Local Government will be returning some core functions to the municipalities. “We are returning pension calculations, the payment for street lights, the payment for social water, returning asset disposal, (and) returning permission for travel,” he informed.

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