Wed | Feb 21, 2018

Steve Lyston | Urgent local government reform needed

Published:Monday | April 10, 2017 | 12:09 AMSteve Lyston


The function of local government goes beyond cleaning gullies and garbage collection. Local government represents the 'feet' of the nation.

This means that the mayors, councilors and civic groups as well as the Church come together to bring transformation to their communities. A great deal of focus is often on the Central Government - the prime minister and ministers. However, the Central Government's focus includes the vision and the driving of the nation's policies which must start from local government itself.

For example, dealing with crime on the national level, we tend to focus on the Ministry of National Security and the commissioner of police or the party in power to come up with a plan, while we neglect local government representatives, regardless of their party, to manage their parish. So the management of a nation's security and economy begin with/in the local government.

They are the gatekeepers within the city regarding conduct; and that is where fair distribution of resources must take place. If there is to be equality and fair distribution of resources within the nation, it starts with local government. Hence there need to be committees set up which are drawn from non-government organisations, churches, civic groups, political, private and business sectors to determine how we allocate and distribute resources within the communities. Oftentimes, the local government operations are neglected and only given attention during the election season.

The nation tends to focus on international investors, while we neglect the building of communities, sports, economic development, and all these first take place in the communities.

Lobbying and legislation of new laws all starts within local government, but oftentimes the general public - even at the community level - has no idea how that works nor do they have any input.

When the nation's Budget is being read, many don't fully grasp what is being put forward nor do they understand the implications of the various budget decisions.

...What are parish councils all about?

The management of parish councils is the most critical within a nation - and the most mishandled. Until it is fixed, we will not have any growth. There needs to be greater insight and forecasting. We need a city centre - a fully computerised, one-stop shop where information can be given on:

- How to start up a business

- Zoning (so that there is not an abundance of one kind of business in one place)

- List of Most needed businesses in the city/town

- List of Health facilities available in the city/town

- It must be run with proper order and good logistics


In order to have an effective nation, both Local and Central Governments need to set up Training for:

- Community Representatives

- Political Representatives

- Church and the Youth in areas of governance

- Management

- Budgeting

- Solution resource areas,

- Family matters and Parenting

-Servant Leadership


- Identifying and Nurturing Talents in Arts and Entertainment at a young age (Not just when they get popular)

- The lecturers for these programmes should be drawn from both local and international sources.

Government should ensure that for every international investor that has decided to set up business within the nation, there must be a clause within their contract that stipulates that 10 per cent must be given to develop the youth within the community - youth training centres.

Every community should have a sports clinic, a school for inventors, and facility for those who want to study mathematics, science and marine biology.

There also needs to be a clause in business contracts that the majority of those employed must be locals. Furthermore, at least 20 per cent of their managerial staff must be locals.

If we don't start getting serious on this issue, then there will be chaos ahead. Everybody else is putting their nation first - why can't we?

Our people are tremendously creative at putting training ads together and we need to capitalise on that in our effort to bring our people up to date on pertinent issues such as what the Budget entails, the function of local government, and whatever other important national matters to make our people at least knowledgeable for the building of our nation.

Additionally, the private sector needs to channel more of its resources and give more of their assistance logistically rather than wasting money on campaigns during the election season.

Community policing, mentorship and certain skills training start within the local community at the parish council level so there is need for reformation that the culture be changed and that level of government be respected.