Brown Burke defends local government stewardship
Kingston Mayor Angela Brown Burke on Sunday defended her stewardship of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), as well as the 12 municipal corporations, all of which have grown in revenue under the control of the People's National Party (PNP) since April 2012, when it swept the local government elections.
"The vast majority of the budget, the money that comes to council, that we spend is money that we go out there and earn," Brown Burke said.
"We have been able to earn it because we've put leadership behind management to create that thrust to improve the revenue because we know that to provide the services that are required by our people, it has to be financed, and so we have been financing it primarily through own-source revenue. So, Comrade, when you hear we say we don't want nobody play politics with the Parochial Revenue Fund, we are serious because it is one of those dedicated sources of revenue for the local government authority," she told a party meeting at the Jamaica Conference Centre,
Brown Burke admitted that the success in revenue generation had been achieved with full support of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors, as local government governance is not stymied by the divisiveness which plagues the Central Government administration.
For this reason, the PNP vice-president charged that it was unfair for the JLP to be raising the issues of corruption and poor leadership as part of its campaign to unseat her party.
"In local government, there is one team because all decisions that are taken are taken by council in committee where every single councillor sits - whether you PNP or you JLP - and the question I would like to ask today is, how many times have you heard anybody get up and say they disagree with the decisions that have been taken; get up and say there are wrong policies being pursued? We didn't hear it then, and they were sitting in the councils," Brown Burke argued.
She continued: "So nuh badda come mek up the duppy stories now because the people of Jamaica are smart enough to read into that; that because its campaign (time) you want to find something to say, weh you couldn't say in four to five years. So, comrades, we have a lot to be proud of."
On the question of the irregular collection of solid waste, Brown Burke took aim at Desmond McKenzie, minister of local government, who has been on an islandwide campaign to clean up the country. The PNP executive intimated that the public was being misled in terms of which agency is responsible for garbage collection.
ISSUE OF CORRUPTION
"Some of those who saying the parish council this, the mayor this and we must clean up the country, need to know whose responsibility it really is, and that responsibility is not that of the local authorities, it is not that of the parish councils. So when the National Solid Waste Management Authority fails to do its job, we must call on the individuals at solid waste, and we must call on the minister of local government, and we must call on the prime minister for them to do something. Every day we receive the complaints, every day we pass it on, every day we talk about it, but we need to declare that this responsibility lies squarely at Central Government, not at the local authority," she stressed.
On the issue of corruption, the KSAC chairman said she welcomed the spotlight.
"Comrades, they talk about corruption, and we must talk about it, we are not afraid to deal with the issue of corruption. We not afraid of audits, we do several audits several times per year, we have it open, we have it transparent, and we have said time and time again, we welcome audits because we welcome accountability. And what accountability means, comrades, is that if there is an audit and things are not going well, we place them on the table, and those who need to be held accountable are held accountable; it's part of the process, and we welcome it. we are not afraid of it."