500 more to be employed in local government ministry's summer programme

Observer staff reporter

Monday, July 23, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development says it will increase the number of participants in its 2018 Youth Summer Employment Programme by 500, which is to be launched on Thursday, August 9.

According to Minister Desmond McKenzie, last year 2,500 young people were employed in the programme, but the number will grow to 3,000 this year.

Speaking at the inaugural Local Governance Conference in Montego Bay last week, McKenzie stated that like last year, a number of the youngsters employed in the programme will participate in the auditing of street lights.

It was reported last year that the ministry owed the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) approximately $5 billion for street lights.

The minister noted that the municipalities are faced with a colossal street light bill, thus the auditing exercise will not be merely counting the number of existing street lamps, but to determine the number of them that are working.

This, he further noted, will require them working at nights, therefore the ministry has made contact with the security forces to allow the youngsters access in communities where enhanced security measures are enforced.

McKenzie underscored the importance of gathering the data from the audit, as the ministry is faced with a monthly expense of $700 million for street lights and garbage collection services.

“When you look at the presentation on how we performed last year for property taxes and how we are performing this year in terms of the target, it tells you that if we continue on the same trend we are going to run into some serious challenges,” he said.

Under the summer employment programme “the young people will also assist the local authorities” in identifying another source of revenue that has eluded them the area of trade licences.

“This programme will therefore see each councillor having 15 individuals from their respective divisions, and mayors 25 participants,” McKenzie announced.

The local governance conference, put on by the ministry at Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa in Rose Hall, St James, from July 17-19, was staged under the theme: 'Strengthening Responsiveness and Accountability within the Local Governance Framework'.

McKenzie said that the conference was a “test run” for the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas conference to be staged in Montego Bay in July 2020, which will bring together key players from North, South, and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, involved in disaster risk-reduction and resilience building.

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