Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Dust off local government reform solutions

Published:Saturday | November 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Camp David

Golden Spring, St Andrew

Consultant Keith Miller's work and recommendations would go a far way in solving the malaise now affecting the local government reform process were his work countenanced.

I am convinced of the wide-ranging mandate and terms of reference he was given, including issues of funding, legal framework, governance structures, and, most important, community representation in decision-making and funds-allocation processes at the local level.

Why does it appear that everybody has cowered at the prospect of implementing his far-reaching research work? Under the Access to Information Act, publish it now!

It cannot be that the furthest we can go as a central plank of community representation on the various parish councils is only lobby, beg, and grovel at the behest of the Social Development Commission-promoted Community Development Councils, and Development Area Committee, and the like, as good as those are supposed to be.

Make no mistake, Jamaicans, it is going to take both political will and people fervour if ever we are going to see a legal framework that will bring about the kind of balance of power where ordinary community people get a seat on parish council boards, committees, and trusts.

How insulated and separated is money raised in the forms of property tax and traffic tickets, with which effective planning and judicious management could boost road infrastructure, instead of being channelled into the Consolidated Fund, which Government can use to whatever end it sees fit?

Imani Duncan-Price, in her failed quest to represent East Rural St Andrew, recently said that Mavis Bank in the constituency was located on a fault line and, therefore, roads needed good subsurface compaction with impermeable overlay of material of minute particle size to withstand water erosion. I am convinced that every parish councillor throughout Jamaica knows this, but they all do otherwise.




At the very heart of local government reform is the mantra of citizens in partnership with Government at the local level. Yet Stockfarm Road in West Rural St Andrew is a reflection of what remains after a volcano erupts, or Hiroshima in Japan.

The residents have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair works and yet neither Councillor Tosha Schwapp nor Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn has up to now recognised our roadwork by adding or improving on it since our last workday less than a year ago.

Local government reform is overdue. Bring it on before November 28!