The Ministry of Local Government is being shelved as the Government moves to implement a modern management system which is styled after the one currently being used by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
According to Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Franklin Khan, this move will empower the regional corporations with greater autonomy to make decisions, while they will now be required to report to the Ministry of Finance on fiscal matters only.
Speaking at a press conference at Kent House, Maraval, yesterday, Khan said the move was in keeping with promises made by the People's National Movement (PNM) on the campaign trail.Khan joked that he had been dubbed the "Transformation Minister" as he had been handed both ministerial portfolios and challenged to successfully oversee the smooth transition of the move by local government.
Speaking to reporters prior to meeting with the technical team appointed by Cabinet, Khan said they were currently in the process of formulating the policies and plans for the rural development component.
Promising that they would soon be heading to Cabinet with the necessary changes, Khan said, "We promised local government reform in the model of the Tobago House of Assembly, and we also promise that would be implemented and finalised on or before the next local government election which is due at the end of 2016."
Khan has also given the assurance that the process would not adversely affect the local government election which is constitutionally due next year.Adding that they were operating within stringent timelines, Khan said Cabinet had appointed two committees to oversee the exercise.
The ministerial committee, which is chaired by Khan, has been tasked with providing oversight on the local government reform process, ensuring a smooth transition, facilitating the highest level of collaboration among key government ministries and directing the technical committee to ensure they adhere to established government policies.
Khan said the Government was in the process of securing the services of experts from Jamaica and the United Kingdom to assist with the implementation of the new system locally. He said both of those countries had successfully introduced similar models.
The ministerial committee includes deputy chairman Stuart Young, Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs; Public Administration Minister Randall Mitchell; Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis; and Social Development and Family Affairs Minister Cheryl-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn.
The technical committee, chaired by Local Government and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Angela Edwards, includes deputy chairman alderman Anthony Roberts; alderman Terry Rondon; Point Fortin Mayor Clyde Paul; attorney Lennox Sankersingh; and a host of public service technocrats.