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Ministry Launches Governance Thematic Working Group

The Ministry of Local Government & Community Development in collaboration with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), this morning launched the Governance Thematic Working Group, in a ceremony at the Ministry’s Hagley Park Road Office.
Delivering the main address during the ceremony, Minister Noel Arscott lauded the formation of the working group as a demonstration of “recognition of the fact that mechanisms must be implemented to transform plans into actions and to monitor those actions in order to realize a vision.”
The Governance Thematic Working Group is a multi-stakeholder mechanism that supports implementation and monitoring of the priorities for the Governance Thematic Area of the Medium Term Socio Economic Policy Framework (MTF) for Vision 2030 Jamaica Plan.  The group, which will be chaired by the Minister of Local Government & Community Development, is made of professionals from academia, government agencies, NGOS and civil society who will work together to strengthen collaboration and consultation among stakeholders in support of the strategic actions for implementing sector priorities.
Continuing his presentation Minister Arscott said that the Ministry was well placed to chair the Working Group as the areas of focus of the MTF directly relates to the portfolio responsibilities of the Ministry. The establishment of the working group, he added, “can only serve to support and advance the local government reform programme”. He then went on to highlight some of the progress that has been made in the Ministry’s local governance reform efforts.
  • Drafting instructions have been issued to the Chief Parliamentary Council (CPC) for the three strategic laws: the Local Governance Act,     Local Government Financing and Financial Management Act, Local Government (Unified Services and Employment) Act. This is a major step in adding legal authority to the role and functions carried out by Local Authorities.
  • A second draft of the draft bill for inclusion of Local Government in the constitution of Jamaica was received by the Ministry last week and is being reviewed.
  • In terms of the structure of Local Authorities, Ministry and Local Authority representatives are in dialogue with the Corporate Management Division in respect of the recommendations for new organizational arrangements. The discussions include the implementation of a shared services approach covering legal services, ICT, Human Resource Management and Audit among other areas.
  • As an important tool in the accountability and transparency framework, the financial management and accounting system (FMAS) has been implemented in eight Local Authorities while two more are expected to implement this system early in the next financial year.
  • In respect of establishing an effective financing framework the Ministry is working to strengthen critical pillars of the councils financing arrangements with focus on ensuring improved performance of own source revenues; significantly improving the performance of the Parochial Revenue Fund (PRF) with property tax targets moving from 2.8 B to 7.26 B in one fiscal year; employing the use of technology to support councils efforts – streetlight database; close monitoring of property tax collections; computerization of the councils finances.

In declaring the Governance Thematic Working Group officially launched, the Minister declared that the MTF 2012-2015 priorities for the Governance area were in accordance with the priorities of the Ministry and that he is confident that the working group, if committed to the task, will be able to achieve Vision 2030’s National outcome #6; Effective Governance.