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JIS News

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Local Government Reform, Hon. Robert Montague, has said that the series of Parish Development Symposia being held across the island have been very successful so far.
“A number of the representatives of agencies travelling with us as we circle the island are quite surprised at the level of discussions being held. (and) the solutions people are putting forward. Some of these are unique, some are outlandish, but still, it shows that people are thinking. Once you begin that thinking process and begin to engage people . ideas and solutions will come out because the people have the answers,” the State Minister said.
He was speaking with JIS News during the workshop break-out session of the St. James Parish Visioning Symposium held yesterday (February 24) at the Montego Bay Civic Centre in Sam Sharpe Square.
The session was the sixth to be held in parishes across Jamaica under the theme: ‘My community, our parish, one Jamaica – my vision’. The main purpose of the series of symposia is to provide a forum for forging a vision for the development of each community and parish over the next 20 years.
Minister Montague said he is heartened by the level of participation from all strata of society and the quality of discussion.
“We have seen a number of persons, who have come and have demonstrated a passion for their communities and want to see them developed a certain way. The word is getting out there that people need to come and have their say and that’s the whole aim of the Local Government Reform process – giving space at the table for everybody to come and have their say,” Mr. Montague told JIS News.
Addressing participants at the opening session, the State Minister indicated that the team will not throw out any development plan that is already in place.
“We would want to incorporate such a plan into what we do because we believe that we must seek to build on the foundation that already exists rather than trying to throw out same and start all over again. That is one of the things that have held back this country of ours and there comes a time when we need to stop that,” Mr. Montague said.
“We have one Jamaica and therefore, we must learn to pass the baton and if there is a foundation already in place, we must build on it. We must improve it and leave it better for those coming after us,” Minister Montague emphasised.
Mayor of Montego Bay and Chairman of the St. James Parish Council, Charles Sinclair while pointing to infrastructural improvements in the parish over the years, said that lack of proper planning has also caused the emergence of problems such as squatting, over populated schools, traffic congestion, inadequate waste disposal, and street-side vending along with the social ills such as crime and violence.
He expressed he hope that the series of symposia will inspire vigorous participation and the desired input for the development of a sustainable plan, which will benefit the parish and the country on the whole.
“I believe that giving all stakeholders the opportunity to work in cohesion towards a common goal is indeed a step in the right direction. I am of the belief that Jamaicans are now prepared and ready to work towards the creation of a sustainable plan of development for the improvement of our respective communities and for the effective utilisation of the nation’s resources,” he stated.

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