Strong Local Government Strengthens Nations – Montague


Minister of State with responsibility of Local Government Robert Montague, has said that the effectiveness of local governance depends greatly on the ability of individuals and institutions to be fully aware of their responsibilities and to be enabled to perform them.
“The result is a strengthened Local Government and local governance system. Our Caribbean people will have the skills and competence that are needed to meet our goals. We will build strong nations individually and most importantly a stronger Caribbean region,” Mr. Montague said.
He added that the Government of Jamaica is mindful that Local Government plays an important role in giving the people more interaction with their elected representatives, and greater involvement in the process of governance.
“It is for this reason that I reiterate that Local Government Reform is not a programme but a process that involves citizens’ participation,” Mr. Montague stressed.
The Minister of State was speaking yesterday (Jan. 8), at the opening of the two-day Local Governance Conference held by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
In his update on the Local Government Reform, Mr. Montague informed that “we have concluded a Constitutional Amendment to have Local Government entrenched in our Constitution.”
“We are in the process of writing a new Local Authorities Act to repeal some 82 pieces of legislations that impact upon Local Government,” Mr. Montague said.
“We have also established municipal courts and we have in all our local authorities’ municipal police. We have established Parish Development Committees and from this body, ideas are sent to the local authorities for implementation,” he added.
The State Minister also noted that the accountability of the local authorities has also been improved as Parish Public Accounts Committee and Secretary Managers are now required to appear before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
He also stated that in the next financial year Local Government authorities will have to fund 30 per cent of their budget from their own resources.
“We are also moving to have a dedicated percentage of the national budget for Local Government. These actions have further advanced by the development of physical infrastructures through the rehabilitation and construction of fire stations and infirmaries,” Mr. Montague said.
Meanwhile, he said that the conference on local governance and inter-governmental relations in the Caribbean takes place at a time when there has been heightened awareness of the role of local governance in national development and by extension the affairs of Caribbean states.
“I am confident that proceedings over the next two days will contribute greatly to local governance and inter-governmental relations in the Caribbean and provide a wealth of information in the process,” Mr. Montague said.
The Local Governance Conference hosted by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the UWI, Mona Campus, is being held under the theme ‘Local Governance and inter-governmental relations in the Caribbean: Examining the past, assessing the present and predicting the future’.

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