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Local Government and Community Month 2015 was officially launched on October 29, 2015 by portfolio Minister Noel Arscott. This year’s ceremony was held at the St. William Grant Park, downtown Kingston, under the theme “Empowering Communities through Improved Governance.”

Minister Arscott noted that the observance of the Month is occurring at a time when there is a sense of disconnection between the general population and the structures of governance at the local level. He said however that efforts to increase the pace of local government reform to meet public expectations have been bearing fruit, particularly in relation to the Ministry’s legislative agenda. “The Constitution (Amendment Local Government) Act, 2015 was passed in the Lower and Upper Houses this year. With this Constitutional change, Jamaica now has the ultimate framework within which the network of elected representatives at the Constituency and Divisional levels, and the various community and parish committees can work to empower and improve their communities.

We also committed to the completion, tabling and passage of the Three Strategic Laws, which form the practical legislative workings of the Local Government system within its Constitutional protection. To this end, we have finalized and tabled the Three Laws: the Local Governance Bill, the Local Government (Financing and Financial Management) Bill and the Local Government (Unified Service and Employment) Bill.

Mr. Arscott also provided an update on the Ministry’s push for Local Economic Development, specifically through the Caribbean Local Economic Development Project (CARILED), which is being implemented with the support of the Government of Canada. “This vital partnership with the Government of Canada is making a difference to people where they live, with its emphases on collaborative action, and creativity through entrepreneurship.  Of the twelve community local economic development projects that have been supported by CARILED, seven are still being implemented and five have been completed, at a total cost of J$60 million. Not to be outdone is the Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP) which is being implemented through our Agency, the Social Development Commission (SDC). One hundred and thirty-one (131) projects have so far been initiated under this Programme, at a start-up capital value of J$509.5 million.”