JIS News

A new look National Advisory Council (NAC) is to be launched by the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sports next week. It will be chaired by outgoing Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Rex Nettleford.
The planned relaunch of the NAC on January 20 at the Knutsford Court Hotel, has been identified by the Ministry as a way to enhance the Local Government Reform Programme , which is geared towards building citizen participation and empowerment at the local level, through the island’s parish councils.
Speaking at a ‘Think Tank’ session hosted by the JIS today (January 13), Advisor and Consultant on Local Government Reform at the Ministry, Keith Miller, said the NAC has an essential role to play “in taking the reform process forward”.
He classified the NAC as a “broad-based entity”, and explained that the Council would “facilitate very broad participation by all the key stakeholders in the reform programme at the national level”.That first meeting will see the tabling of a ‘Draft Terms of Reference of the NAC’, as well as the introduction of members.
A cross section of persons, representing various sectors and groups, is intended to form the membership of the Council.
Mr. Miller said persons who would sit on the Council included “the major political parties, trade unions, private sector, non-governmental bodies, bodies such as teachers, the church, special groups such as women and young persons”.
Continuing, he said the Council intended to “work in a way to enable the reform programme to draw on the wide perspective of all those persons and to benefit from the knowledge of persons who have focused on looking at issues such as public sector management and governance”.
Funding would be allocated to the NAC, he informed, through the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sports, as well as from other sources, including international funding agencies.
He said one of the major aims of the revitalized NAC would be to put forward interim recommendations on local government issues. The NAC was first established in 1995 and operated until 1998, at which point Mr. Miller said, “it went into abeyance”.
He pointed out that one of the primary successes during the three-year run of the NAC was “building general awareness of the issue of reform and helping to sensitize and bring knowledge of the reform process to a wide group of sectors within the society”.
Mr. Miller disclosed that issues such as fixed dates for Local Government elections and the election of Mayors were brought to the fore during the life of the first Council and was likely to be revived this time around.
Despite the dormancy of the Council for the last five years, he said its past success in heightening awareness on local governance resulted “in a lot of calls from different quarters for the re-establishment of the NAC”.

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