Local Government Reform proceeds from recognition of the unique contribution which Local Government can make in the provision of quality local services; ensuring responsiveness of government to the needs and views of citizens and communities; and also toward the establishment of a model of governance which can meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. Therefore despite deficiencies in the past performance of Local Government, its crucial importance to the future dictates that the correct approach must be to seek to reform the institution rather than to weaken or dismantle it. The Reform Programme is therefore predicated on three main areas of thrust, which are:
- Restoration of Parish Councils and KSAC (now Municipal Corporations) to the status they enjoyed prior to the mid 1980s when almost all of their functions and responsibilities were taken away.
- Correction of chronic deficiencies which have characterized the performance of Local Authorities in the past, and which had been extensively documented in the many Studies which had been carried out on Local Government, but on which no action had previously been taken.
- Establishment of a Local Government system which embraces an approach to governance capable of dealing with the issues and challenges which face society as we venture into a new millennium.
A VISION OF THE NEW LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Local Government Reform is shaped by a vision of the type of Local Government system which can measure up to the challenges of governance of modern Jamaican society and the future. Among the characteristics of this new Local Government system are:
- Parish Councils/KSAC (now Municipal Corporations) which enjoy real autonomy in managing local affairs, have adequate and independent sources of revenue to match their responsibilities, and which operate within a legal/ institutional framework that provides them with the necessary authority and capacity to respond to local needs and circumstances in the context of available resources and local priorities.
- Local Authorities which are able to attract the best quality leadership in each Parish to serve on the Corporations, and which are manned by a well trained and highly motivated workforce of professional managers and skilled technical support staff, with a strong problem solving orientation, and who are able to apply advanced technology and state of knowledge to the tasks and activities of the Corporations, and who are also strongly committed to client satisfaction and service to the community.
- Local Authorities which are answerable to their local citizenry through institutionalized mechanisms which require Corporations to report to their citizens on their stewardship, and give citizens the means of ensuring strict accountability and transparency in the Councils operations.
- Development of strong local planning capability in each Parish to bring about orderly, balanced and sustainable development of the Parish in accordance with the wishes of its citizens, and creation of a framework for collaboration and cooperation between Central and Local Government and civil society, based on a clear definition of roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders, and of the relationship between these groups.