JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding said Jamaica will have to decide on how much government a country of its size and population needs, in order to determine the structure and form of the local government system. He said local government has always had to do battle with central government in determining where their respective jurisdictions begin and end, and this has affected the efficient delivery of service to the people.
Mr. Golding was speaking at a seminar hosted by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum at the Courtleigh Hotel on Tuesday (Feb. 5), to sensitize local government officers in Jamaica and their partners in the United Kingdom, about the Local Government Good Practice Scheme.
He said a system of local government was still important for Jamaica, given a number of public service issues that central government would not be able to address easily and quickly. He said the government was committed to determining as clear and definitive as possible, a separation between central and local government, adding that the system would have to be entrenched and allow for accountability and transparency. Mr. Golding also highlighted the need to dedicate and secure resources for local government, in order to allow local authorities to effectively carry out their duties.
Mr. Golding said the idea of County Councils has been proposed, but that the system which is eventually adopted must be responsive to the needs of the community and facilitate people participation. He said it should also seek to redefine the expectation of those being served.
He said local government must not only be able to respond to the needs of the community, but people must be able to participate in order to feel a sense of ownership of the process. He said citizens must also be aware of the boundaries and responsibilities of the institutional arrangements within which their expectations would have to be confined.
He said capacity building was critical to the eventual shape and configuration of the local government system, adding that capacity building at the level of the political and administrative directorates would have to be carried out. He said this should include the intensification of training programmes for all involved, including persons in the political directorate.
Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government Reform in the Office of the Prime Minister, Robert ‘Bobby’ Montague noted that Jamaica has the oldest system of local government in the region dating back to the 1600s. He pointed to the Good Practice Scheme and the benefits to several local authorities that have partnered with Councils in the United Kingdom. He said Jamaica had a lot to share with its Commonwealth Partners, which would be achieved by extending the programme to other territories within the region.
Secretary General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, Carl Wright, said the Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK would be extending its funding of the Good Practice Scheme. He said the Canadian Agency for International Development would also be coming on board with new sponsorship for the programme. The Good Practice Scheme has been working with a number of local authorities in Jamaica on project ranging from revenue generation and strategic planning.