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Local authorities challenged to become more self-sufficient

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, is calling on local authorities to become more self-sufficient, in order to reduce their dependency on central government.

He was addressing the opening ceremony of the inaugural Caribbean Conference of Mayors at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters, Mona, St Andrew yesterday.

“If we speak about the independence of local government, then we should create our own niche of revenue, and it's time we extricate ourselves from the pockets of central government by becoming more relevant when it comes to generating our own sources of revenue,” the minister said.

McKenzie emphasised that the potential is there for this to become a reality, noting that “this is one area of disappointment in local government”.

The minister argued that the success of central government requires the continued success of local government.

“Local government has and continues to be the most accessible and intimate form of government to the citizens anywhere, (and) its importance continues to grow. As our collective economy and societies evolve, we should pool our intellectual and social capacities to drive and support development in our cities, municipalities and countries,” he said.

The minister said the conference provides an opportunity for local government practitioners to share best practices and significantly improve the quality of service provided to citizens, particularly in starting the process of coordinating the creation of smart cities across the Caribbean.

“The starting point of this process is the sharing of ideas — communication and information technologies — to increase efficiency and creativity of our operations. In this way, we will positively affect service delivery and governance in our cities and municipalities, and, at the same time, we will more strongly contribute to the share of the limited budget resources that are available to the local authorities,” he said.

The conference, which ends tomorrow, is being held under the theme 'Caribbean Cities: Honouring the Past, Embracing a Smart Future'. It is geared towards building relationships and understanding among mayors and local government practitioners from across the Caribbean.

It is organised by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation.

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