Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Letter of the Day | People need to come out in numbers and vote

Published:Friday | February 23, 2024 | 12:09 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

I would like to commend, applaud, and congratulate the organisers, sponsors, and the Jamaica Debates Commission for those two successfully held local government debates. From my perspective both the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) debate teams performed creditably well on those two separately held debates. According to the PNP debate team during the past PNP government tenure three important regulations and laws were implemented a) financial management regulations; b) permanent staff tenure for the officers of the municipal corporations; regulations governing the appointments and tenure for parish development committees headed by each parish custos and c) community development committees established as legal entities registered by the Social Development Commission.

Those regulations were continued by the Andrew Holness-led administration and Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie. Before 2016 property taxes inflows were approximately $3 billion per annum. Under Minister McKenzie’s astute ministerial leadership property taxes collections have now averaged $10 billion for last year 2023. Training sessions for councillors have taken place over the past five years. The Social Development Commission received an allocation of $148 million as budget for this fiscal year.

McKenzie posited that Government now pays for an administrative staff for all serving councillors; some 60,000 young persons have successfully been through the local government’s youth summer programme; all councillors are able to allocate education, business and financial grants annually.

Funding for the municipal corporations comes through the Parochial Revenue Fund, Equalization Fund and other funding from the local government ministry. The PNP has proposed that two per cent of the budget should be allocated to the local government ministry to be dispersed among the municipal corporations.

The Gleaner dated February 19, published on a news report which stated that a poll commissioned by the RJRGLEANER communications group revealled that almost 40 per cent of polled Jamaicans believe standard of work has fallen at the local government level. The government must be commended for increasing the salaries for all serving councillors, deputy mayors and mayors and therefore within this framework citizens across the country in their respective parish councillor divisions must now demand a higher level of performance, accountability, and transparency from each elected councillor.

We need to have at least a 60 per cent voter turnout at the local government polls on February 26. Be responsible Jamaican voters and exercise your constitutional right to vote and select the candidate of your choice. Let us have a safe, secured and efficient local government election day. This country would save a huge sum of money if both the general and local government elections were to be held at the time on the same day. The Electoral Office of Jamaica’s director has stated that they are capable and competent to carry out such an exercise having both elections on one single day. This issue must be discussed and debate by the Constitutional Reform Committee.

ROBERT DALLEY

Montego Bay, St. James.

robert.dalley1468@aol.com