A Quick Look At Local Government Reform Efforts

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Local Government State Minister Colin Fagan (L) and Local Government Minister Noel Arscott (R) inspecting one of the three new fire trucks purchased for the Jamaica Fire Brigade earlier this year.

November is observed annually as Local Government and Community Development Month. Earlier, we shared information on the various agencies of local government. Today, we take a look at the Local Governance Act, which was passed in July.

The Constitution (Amendment) (Local Government) Act 2015 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 Act is intended to “Provide for the comprehensive reform of Jamaica’s local government system, through which Local Authorities will be granted greater scope and autonomy in the management of local affairs, with an expanded and more holistic mandate for the good governance, sustainable development and maintenance of good civic order within their respective jurisdictions, and for connected matters.”

The principal objects of the Act are to:

  • establish a rational framework with regard to the different types of Local Authorities;
  • broaden the mandate of Local Authorities by making them responsible for good governance, sustainable development and maintenance of civic order within their jurisdictions;
  • enhance the capacity of Local Authorities to more effectively manage local affairs, by enabling them to exercise powers and perform functions assigned to them;
  • ensure accountability and transparency on the part of Local Authorities in the conduct of local affairs, including the use of public resources and exercise of authority;
  • define the roles of, and relationship between, the political and administrative organs of Local Authorities;
  • facilitate the participation and empowerment of civil society and communities in local governance processes;
  • broaden the democratic process to ensure full participation in the local governance system and promote greater inclusiveness and equity for all sectors of the society.

Additionally, two complementary Bills – Local Government (Unified Service and Employment) Bill and the Local Government (Financing and Financial Management) Bill, were also passed earlier this month. Together, the “three strategic laws” provide the requisite legislative tools needed by local authorities to facilitate their optimal responsiveness.

Click here for the Bill.