Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, has admitted to the shortcomings within the Jamaican local government system. One such limitation he admits is local government practitioners being unaware of their role.
“Local government, over the years, has been severely criticised. In some cases there are real justifications but in other cases it is a lack of understanding (of) the role of local government. And certainly, there are many local government practitioners who contribute to that notion, because they themselves are not fully cognizant of their role as local government practitioners.”
He expressed his disappointment at the recently held Local Governance Conference Jamaica 2018 at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa, directed by the theme ‘Strengthening Responsiveness and Accountability within the Local Governance Framework’.
To remedy the situation, Mr. McKenzie has underlined the importance of ensuring that the proper knowledge and training is imparted unto the local government practitioners so that they may better be able to serve the people. “We are cognizant of the role that we have to play as servants of the people. Therefore, it is the commitment of this administration to ensure that we expose our local government practitioners to the best possible training; the best possible medium so that they can express themselves in the way they ought to express themselves,” he said.
Further to that, he outlined that local government plays a deeper and more valuable role than cleaning drains and bushing trees, but to the more desperate and needy part of our society. He gave the example of the fourteen (14) infirmaries across this country where many Jamaicans fell on hard times and were dependent on the services of local government.
A key part to the role of local government being disaster management, Mr. McKenzie maintained that we’ve entered the hurricane period, with several parishes already experiencing severe drought conditions in anticipation of a very active hurricane season. However, he is assuring the public that, “We are preparing ourselves as local government practitioners to face these challenges and to respond in a meaningful manner.”
He used the platform provided by the conference to highlight the recent fires that have been unexpectedly recurring. With that he charged mayors, councillors and the respective local government personnel to work assiduously and well within their roles. “A lot more needs to be done to ensure that we secure the landfills across the country. These are just some of the challenges that we face as local government practitioners,” he said.