JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Senate, on July 17, passed legislation to entrench local governance in the Constitution.
  • The Constitution (Amendment) (Local Government) Act, was passed without amendments.
  • Under the Bill, local authorities are being given the ability to perform regulatory functions to facilitate the management, improvement and development of resources of local communities.

The Senate, on July 17, passed legislation to entrench local governance in the Constitution.

The Constitution (Amendment) (Local Government) Act, was passed without amendments.

Under the Bill, local authorities are being given the ability to perform regulatory functions to facilitate the management, improvement and development of resources of local communities.

It also allows Parliament to make provision for local authorities to generate and spend their own revenue, and to provide for the holding of local government elections.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, who closed the debate, said the entrenching of local government into the Constitution “is something that has been a long time in coming” and which enjoys bi-partisan support.

“Therefore, today is a historic day and represents the culmination of a long period of work to have this achieved,” he said.

He noted further that passage of the Bill is a “basic foundation” for ensuring the continuity of the local government system in the country and the benefits that local governance brings to communities and the citizenry.

Senator Golding told the House that some of the issues raised during the debate relating to the “consistency of strategic planning with national goals,” will be addressed in three strategic laws, which are to be debated in Parliament.

The three laws are the Local Governance Bill; Local Government (Unified Service and Employment) Bill; and the Local Government (Financing and Financial Management) Bill.

“The first of these is now before the House, and I anticipate that another will be tabled in the House on Tuesday…and the third of them we will be doing our very best to bring to the House in September, so that the three strategic laws will be in place and available to the House for review and debate thereafter,” he informed.

“I look forward to seeing and hearing the debate on those Bills, at the appropriate time,” Senator Golding said.

The Constitution (Amendment) (Local Government) Act is in keeping with recommendations made in the August 1993 Report on the Constitution of Jamaica, and the May 1995 final report of the Joint Select Committee of the Houses of Parliament on Constitutional and Electoral Reform.

The reports emphasised the need for certain public offices and institutions to be included in the Constitution of Jamaica.

The Bill was passed in the House of Representatives in May.