Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Expanding Local Governance

Published:Thursday | March 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM


As we await the first step of many for local government reform to make its way ever so slowly to Gordon House for parliamentary approval, it must be recognised that certain social and economic failings have crippled Jamaica for many years and are associated with the lack of a strong and vibrant local government structure that supports and promotes com-prehensive parish development strategies, community gover-nance and public participation in the overall process and running of this nation.

With the focus of central government on national strategies that give direction to major sectors of the society, it must be said, then, that local government must deal with the more intricate issues of the people - like proper markets, cemeteries, street lights and other aspects that make life comfortable. But local government can and should be able to do more, especially in the formation of bye-laws and regulations that will enable parishes to capitalise on their unique products and resources.

Although the amendment makes provision for the Local Government Act to be entrenched and local authorities to earn more autonomous revenue, effective local governance must be characterised by a widening of the regulatory scope that local authorities are able to create without overreaching. The ability of local authorities to promote their little corner of Jamaica as the best in a certain area would incite competition, creativity and renewed interest in grassroots development.

If nothing else, it would diminish the concern that governance is as far as the physical distance between Gordon House in Kingston and the rest of Jamaica.