The last of the three Strategic Laws designed to give Local Government Reform practical effect within Jamaica is now before Parliament. The Local Governance Bill, which was tabled in the House of Representatives recently, is intended among other things to give Local Authorities greater scope and autonomy in the management of local matters. The Bill also provides a clear accountability framework, to ensure that the activities of the Local Authorities reflect the wishes of the people they serve.
According to Minister of Local Government and Community Development Noel Arscott, this framework is critical to the effort to make the plans and operations of Local Authorities completely transparent and clearly felt at the community level. “One feature of this new thrust is that each Local Authority will be required to conduct community meetings at least once every year, and report to the residents who live within the Authority’s area of responsibility, about its performance and plans. The Bill also proposes to change what we now call Parish Councils and the Portmore Municipal Council, to Municipal Corporations, which will have increased authority to act within their areas of responsibility. In keeping with the theme of increased responsibility, the Bill also requires Local Authorities to ensure the proper management of a Municipal Police Force, in collaboration with the Minister of National Security and the Commissioner of Police among other stakeholders. This Bill and its two companion pieces of legislation are proof of our seriousness about transforming Jamaica through Local Government, and I look forward to piloting them through the House.”
The main objectives of the Local Governance Bill include:
(a) Establishing a rational framework within which the various types of Local Authorities will operate;
(b) Broadening the mandate of Local Authorities by making them responsible for good governance, sustainable development and maintenance of civic order within their jurisdictions, and enabling them to
exercise powers and perform functions assigned to them;
(c) Defining the roles of and relationship between, the political and administrative organs of Local Authorities; and facilitating the participation and empowerment of civil society and communities in local
The tabling of the Local Governance Bill follows that of the Local Government (Unified Service and Employment) Bill and the Local Government (Financing and Financial Management) Bill. All three Bills are to be debated in Parliament and are available for viewing on this website.