Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Local Authorities and Local Advisory Committees

Although there has been a major leap in central government's agenda on Local Government Reform with the passing of the 3 pieces of legislation in 2015 aimed at giving greater authority and autonomy to the local authorities to be called "Municipal Corporations" and "City Municipalities" over their own affairs.

The laws are by no means perfect but are the result of many years of study and lobbying by
stakeholders, wanting to preserve and strengthen the bastardized institution that often receives
criticism for being a unnecessary economic burden and a political tool for rewarding the political parties' grassroots activists seeking representational roles.

But we shouldn't undervalue local government's importance in the day to day running of a nation by
actively fulfilling the national policies of the central government in nooks and crannies, translating
registration into action that directly affect the people, providing the communication channel between
state and people and most importantly the nearest point of contact the people have to affect state
policy; these are just a few basic roles.

Local Participatory Process


In the memorandum of objects and reason the Minister Arscott states "a participatory process which
facilities the direct involvement of key local stakeholders."

And If local government is indeed crucial for 'affecting state policy'; then local authorities must not fail to give life to sections "21" "22" and "37" of the "Local Governance Act 2015" which gives them power to create committees that will help in governance of their perspective parishes.

Sector specific advisory committees or taskforce are constituted of civil society, experts, private sector and citizens that are impacted by the decisions or nondecisions of state and are better placed to
understand best ways to craft and implement policy. The likes of local civil groups and advocates are
often overshadowed by the more influential national groups but this bypass is detrimental to local
governance.

Although we have numerous public agencies involved in community agencies that function under the Local Government Ministry, they too often operate as independent cells and The Parish Development Committee is private sector driven.

Few Councils have already implemented taskforce, but the government must see the need to make
mandatory at least four committees or taskforce: Youth. Women, Environment and Health. These
committees are usually voluntary or stipend hence no additional cost and the outcome outweighs the
cost.

However, leaving the local governance as a political tool would create more waste, more corruption and less governance.