JIS News

Parish Councils are projected to collect a total of $225 million in building and subdivision fees at the end of the 2005/06 financial year.
This represents a significant leap from the $250,000, which was received by all Councils in 1992/93 financial year.
Keith Miller, Consultant on Local Government Reform in the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport identified this as one of the tangible improvements to Jamaica’s Local Government system since the start of the reform process in 1993.
Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Miller said, “one of the cardinal tenets of reform was to put the councils in a position where they would generate the majority of funds from sources that were dedicated to them.”
In the pre-reform era, Councils received 95 per cent of their funding from central government. Currently, Councils are empowered to tap into new sources to generate their own revenue.
“As it stands now,” said Mr. Miller, “near to 60 per cent of the funds that Local Government now has available, comes from sources that are dedicated to them”. Some parishes are able to generate up to 70 per cent of their funds independently.
Mr. Miller highlighted major sources of funding such as the Parochial Revenue Fund, which generates more than $800 million, as well as parking, bus terminal and market fees, which yield nearly $70 million. He noted that the significant increase in revenue allows for the implementation of road repairs and a “fairly sustained drain cleaning programme”, among other functions.
A total of $4.631 billion has been budgeted for Local Government activities for the 2005/06 financial year. Of this figure, Central Government provides approximately 38 per cent.
While recognizing the need for more resources to be allocated to Local Government, Mr. Miller emphasized that the accomplishments of the reform process should not be downplayed.
“It’s a new approach to governance, which enables us now to tap the total resources and potential of all the citizens of the country,” said Mr. Miller.
Through the establishment of Parish Development Committees (PDCs), citizens may participate actively in national development. Some committees have lagged in their growth. However, several have achieved some levels of success, and provide an adequate structure for active citizenship.
“I think the concept of the PDC as a system is one of the most exciting and potentially transforming concepts,” Mr. Miller opined.

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