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(PRESS RELEASE) — As part of continuing efforts to strengthen the Local Government system in Saint Lucia, the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice, Local Government and Empowerment hosted a three-day retreat for Members of Parliament, Local Government mayors and chairpersons.
The retreat was held at the Bay Gardens Hotel and will run from August 6 to August 8, 2019.
One major undertaking of the retreat was a consultation on the legislative review of Saint Lucia’s Local Authority System and to ensure that legislation is responsive to current issues.
Minister of Equity, Social Justice, Local Government and Empowerment Hon. Lenard Montoute stated that his goal is to empower Local Government by creating a more effective and efficient Local Authority System.
“Certainly we want to empower Local Government Councils which will involve the provision of more resources and some legislative changes, for example, property tax. I believe Local Government should be responsible for the collection of property taxes and while most of the revenue will go to Central Government that is, the Inland Revenue Department a percentage of it would go to the Local Government entity. I see greater compliance and more revenue collected for the Inland Revenue Department if Local Government is responsible for property taxes. Note, I am not implying that accountability should be dismantled, I am just saying that we need to do away with some of the bureaucratic processes that hinder efficiency.”
Minister Montoute also emphasised the need for Local Government elections to be introduced in Saint Lucia: “Since 1979 we terminated Local Government elections. However, people complain about the birth of leadership in this country. This is due to the lack of nurturing and breeding ground for leaders in Saint Lucia. Do not expect leaders to come from the blue. I believe that through Local Government we can harness the talents and nurture the potential of upcoming leaders through Local Government Elections followed by National Elections. ”
Minister Montoute also stated that input from parliamentary representatives advanced the discussion on ways forward for councils to utilize available resources and opportunities: “I hope that given the involvement of the parliamentary representatives in the reform process, that I would get their full support, given the fact that they would have participated in the process, giving them the full understanding of the Local Government Reform process.”
Spokesperson for My World Civility Global, Ambassador Clyde Rivers stated the importance of having dialogue: “It is important that we have civil true dialogue. If people feel marginalized and have no voice then that becomes a problem. We therefore have to find ways to bring everyone to the table. People have to understand that change does not take place quickly. You have to turn the wheels of change to engage people into a new way of thinking. That is the critical concept.”
In 2012, the Government of Saint Lucia established the Constituency Councils Act which set in motion a review of the procedures and functions of Local Government Authorities
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