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Minister’s Message Local Government Month 2009

Good Local Governance Is In Our Hands
My fellow Jamaicans, once again the local government fraternity seeks to bring to the attention of our nation the relevance of local government and good local governance in the dailey lives of our people through a series of celebratory activities to mark the month of November as Local Government Month.
 It behoves us as a people to recognize that this second-tier of government is not competing with central government but seeks to complement the policies and identify the needs at the local level and bring your issues to the fore for the necessary attention.
The past year has been a challenging one, but nevertheless we have been moving steadily towards meeting our goals and objectives in a strategic manner that will no doubt impact the way you live and do business within your local jurisdictions through your local authorities. This we will continue to do as we seek to align our priorities with Jamaica’s 2030 Vision to make Jamaica the place to live, work, do business and raise families.
Our major thrust to date has been the review of several pieces of vital legislations that will pave the way for greater legal authority for the local authorities to better fulfill their mandate in improving the quality delivery of service to you, our citizens.
Also in recognition of the need for increased revenues we have put in place revenue enhancement measures that should impact the coffers of the local authorities through the collection of fees. One such measure is the training of municipal police officers to assist in the enforcement of regulations for improved revenues.
On the other hand we have deepened the participatory mechanisms of our communities through the review and establishment of Parish Development Committees across the island and a National Association of Parish Development Committees (NAPDEC). These entities are designed to help push the community agenda and liaise with the local authority in the respective parishes in tabling the needs and decisions of the community at the council level.
We have also completed our final report of the National Advisory Council which highlights the accepted recommendations emanating from extensive islandwide consultations. In addition, we believe that for your councillors to serve you better they too, must know what they are about and how to execute their duties in a formal and structured manner. To this end we have reviewed and updated the Councilors Handbook and will be distributing these as part of the activities to mark the month.
While we have made strides locally in the reform process of local governance, Jamaica has also achieved significant stature on the international scene by way of its achievements in the reform of local government. This is evidenced in the number of illustrious positions, chairs and committees that we have held. Not to mention our efforts at the hosting of our regional partners who coalesced around the broader thinking of regional governance. Our most noteworthy effort has been the production of the Regional Framework and Cooperation Policy on local governance which emanated from a series of seminars and conferences held across the region and funded by our international partners. We are now on the threshold of receiving significant grant funding from this regional cooperation.
Let me congratulate each Local Authority for keeping the system going. Notwithstanding the challenges we currently face. Let not this crisis be an adversity, but let it be our opportunity to shine. Local Government Month is one such grand opportunity to highlight your roles and function and to be innovative in educating and serving. The choice is ours to make. Serve your communities well; they are our reason for existing.
Fellow colleagues as we strive to remain relevant to the needs and sensibilities of our communities let us not forget that as our theme depicts – “good governance is in all our hands” – and we are responsible for writing our destiny and paving the way for a legacy of good governance that will serve our children and generations to come as Jamaica continues on the path to transforming our communities through good local governance.
Therefore, as we go forward let us as individuals, as a team, as a community as a people and as a nation as local government practitioners, continue the thrust towards achieving good local governance by embracing principles of  transparency, accountability,  responsiveness, citizens participation and improved service delivery for a sustained democratic local government system in Jamaica for all Jamaicans.
Thank you and God bless you, as you carry out your planned activities towards this common goal of good governance at the local level.
Robert Montague, MP
Minister of State
in the Office of the Prime Minister

With Responsibility for Local Government