Minister of Local Government & Community Development the Honourable Noel Arscott, says he intends to finalize the entrenchment of Local Government in the Jamaican constitution in this the fiftieth year of the nation’s political independence.
The Minister, who was speaking at a press briefing convened to highlight the achievements of his first 100 days in office, said that the entrenchment of local government in the Jamaica constitution is an important part of the legislative agenda of the reform programme as it will provide the necessary protection to the Local Government System from the political agendas of different Ministers.
In addition to providing on update on the progress of the legislative agenda, Minister Arscott highlighted efforts being made in the areas of institutional strengthening, upgrading of markets and social water provisions, as well as, efforts to transform the status quo as it relates to streetlights and solid waste management.
Some of the highlights included, the review of the Portmore model which is being done with a view to replicating the model in other parishes, an announcement that the Ministry is looking into creating new positions for Town Managers under a Town Council Model in an effort to concentrate higher levels of service and responsiveness in areas where there is greater demand, and the clearing of outstanding balances owed to the National Water Commission for public water as well as an inter-ministerial effort to aid drought affected communities.
Minister Ascott also spoke to other joint venture efforts such as the arrangement with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) for the upgrading of the island’s market which has resulted in the refurbishing of Spaulding Market, and the commencement of work on the Rocky Point and Black River Markets; the signing of an MOU with the Japan International Cooperation Agency for expansion of the NSWMA’s composting facility; the establishment of a street light task force to examine ways of reducing the country’s streetlight bill as well as, an Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the management of waste disposal and waste to energy development. The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining is part of both task forces.
In closing the Minister expressed his desire for greater achievements under the reform programme.
“It is my sincere hope that together we can continue to positively impact the lives of all Jamaicans through our stewardship, representation and provision of improved services through a reformed local government system which is reflective of the high expectations, greater efficiencies within the Local Authorities and agencies and selfless service of those who serve at all levels”, he said.