Thursday, 14 May 2015

Two-Tier Local Governance for Jamaica

It was interesting to hear Opposition leader Andrew Holness ratify the position of his party local governance when he said to MP Warmington[opposition whip]: 

“Wehave to support the bill. We can't look like we not supporting localgovernment." Jamaica Gleaner 13/5/2015

It was almost amusing in that instance to see the opposition fumble and tumble in the House of Representatives during the vote on the amendment to theLocal Government Act{link to Bill} being proposed by the government, prior they stood united and defiant against the CCJ bills that had eventually passed with only government MPs support.

Entrenchment is not enough

It must now become the priority of the government not settle with the entrenchment of the current system, that sees rampant nepotism, corruption, lack of trust, little participation of citizens and community groups, with the current system of local government in the past
Constitution of Jamaica 1962
being disbanded on the grounds of corruption and ineffectiveness, it is understandably that we should be hesitant of protecting a unsatisfactory institution.

The move towards reform are derived from reports recommendations on constitutional reform in 90's and over 20 years later have seen the best and worst of our style of Westminster politics hence any recommendations then must be viewed in the context of nation that has a trust deficit between citizen and government that only be described as unfavorable for development and growth.

County Councils and Parish Administrators

A county council is the elected administrative body governing for an county that often are responsible and are compliment by smaller public bodies including city, districts, parishes, etc. The political system we mirrored belonging to the United Kingdom had county councils from 1889, and reformed in 1974 to one-tier-unitary authorities in most areas of the UK, others nations with County councils include: Sweden, Taiwan, Norway and USA [10 states].

3 Counties/14 Parishes of Jamaica
With County Councils established in Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey [with exception of the Portmore Municipality] - as an elected assembly - the parish/district administrators would be either be elected or appointed on the advise of Justices of the Peace/Magistrates/Community workers.

Constitutionally, the county councils would exercise a degree of municipal self-government provided by the Constitution
Within the boundaries of the county the smaller Parish administration would exercise local self-government independent of the county councils. Each parish in the county could contribute a number of Council members dependent on size and population leading to lesser number of elected at the local levels.
Constitutional reform is matter of when, not if for a young democracy and it must be repeated that the constitution is not a stagnant document but a living scripture that changes constantly and must be continuously updated and reviewed.

Young democracies such as Jamaica have the advantage of learning from the mature democracies that have evolved through trials and errors.

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