· The Almighty, for His Grace and Mercy toward me
· My Family
· The Most Honourable Prime Minister, Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller for her leadership and confidence in my capability to lead this portfolio
· Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Andrew Holness, MP
· Parliamentary colleagues for their support and encouragement
· My Minister of State, Hon. Colin Fagan, MP
· Opposition Spokesman on Local Government, Mr. Desmond McKenzie, MP
· MyConstituents of South West Clarendon, Councillors and members of the constituency executive
· My Advisor, Mr. Basil Waite and my Special Assistant Ms. Carlene Fenton and personal staff in my office
· The Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Sharon Crooks, the management team and staff of the re-established Ministry Local Government and Community Development.
· Chairpersons and members of Boards, Portfolio Agency Heads and staff members affiliated with the Ministry
· Mayors, Councillors, and staff of the Local Authorities
· International Development Partners and Donor Agencies-
-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
-The European Union (EU)
-Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC)
-Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF)
-Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
-The Canadian Urban Institute (CUI)
-Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Mr. Speaker, when I was directed by the Most Honourable Prime Minister to undertake this most significant portfolio, I immediately understood the magnitude of the work ahead. Since 1993, The Peoples National Party administration had embarked on an ambitious programme of Local Government Reform, which has since been hailed as an international best practice.
We recognize that despite the promises of the previous administration,very little was achieved, as far more needed to have been done based on what they had indicated and within the timeframes that they had articulated as the major plans to ‘complete’ the reform of local government.
Had we followed that path, the critical and meaningful opportunities for full participation and buy-in as to its relevance, role, purpose and contribution to the Nation’s development would have been missed.
Mr. Speaker, as most of us are aware, local government was established very early after the British assumed administration over Jamaica, having been introduced as far back as the 17th Century; it is only factual to state that this structure has been integral to Jamaica and it has served this country through all of its evolutionary processes.
Mr. Speaker, it is also an irrefutable fact that the Peoples National Party Administrations over the years has always held the most progressive track-record when it comes to local government; we have always defended, upheld and promoted this sphere of governance as the purest form of political representation as it is the closest to the people and supports true participation in how communities and Parishes direct their affairs.
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