Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Local Government has a special role to play in delivering critical services that directly impact the quality of life.
The Prime Minister was addressing the inaugural Local Government Conference in Montego Bay St. James today (July 17) under the theme “Strengthening Responsiveness and Accountability within the local Governance Framework.”
Prime Minister Holness said, his administration is convinced that the prosperity to which every Jamaican aspires can only be achieved if Government creates the environment to empower citizens.
The Prime Minister underscored that Local Government is subject to the same national standards of accountability and is expected to deliver the highest quality of service. He said it is not a lesser form of Government and therefore requires a high amount of responsiveness and accountability.
“Any agency of the state that is charged with administering the public’s resources must meet the highest standard of accountability and responsiveness. As Mayors and local representatives, you are the political first responders; you are generally the first member of the political class with whom citizens will interact. You represent Jamaica, community by community, house by house, person by person in the smallest divisible unit politically, that our constitution allows. You know every citizen, name by name, alias by alias or at least you should. Therefore, your interactions with the citizens will form their first impressions and indeed it will form their perception of the state,” stated Prime Minister Holness.
Prime Minister Holness argued that Local Government ought to use its resources creatively in order to serve the people effectively and efficiently.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister charged Local Government representatives to take a proactive approach in dealing with disaster preparedness.
“The frequency and intensity of natural disasters and even man-made disasters are such that they can [even] wipe out entire countries as they have done in the past. More than that; they can destabilize economies. The only way to overcome is by being prepared and investing in resilience. Local Government has so much to do with preparing the mind of the citizens as it relates to natural disasters, getting people not to live in gully courses and on river banks,” said Prime Minister Holness.
The Prime Minister made a final appeal to the Municipal Corporations to begin engagement at the community level and noted that Central Government is ready to assist with preparedness for natural disasters.
“I appeal, I urge the Municipal Corporations to start engaging at that level. The Central Government will support. We will do the national advertising campaign that will reinforce the message that you deliver on the ground but nothing beats the message that you deliver on the ground to the people that elected you,” said Prime Minister Holness.