MSJ’s Vision for Local Government-
Our vision for Local Government is rooted in our philosophy of the need for fundamental change in the relations of power. Many people are amazed that for such a small country (just 1.3 million), we are unable to come together as a people with the common purpose of building a nation.
Furthermore, although we all sing the national anthem, so many of us do not feel that this country is ours. This is because decision making is always undertaken by a few, while the majority of the people do not have a say and feel like outsiders. The only way in which this could be changed is if power is shifted from a few to the many. This is our philosophy. And strong local government is an important way in which this could be achieved.
Local Government Reform- the MSJ’s position
The establishment of a single Ministry to facilitate local government affairs- the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.
The role of this Ministry will be to function as an interface between central and local government, as well as monitoring local government bodies to ensure that they carry out their duties and functions within the law. The merging of Local Government and Community Development makes sense since local government is about community development. This will also reduce the number of Cabinet positions; it should go without saying that for a country our size, we have far too many cabinet ministers.
The Statutory Allocation of Resources-
For local government to be truly empowered, the Regional, Borough and City Corporations must be appropriately resourced. In order to achieve this, the MSJ proposes that local corporations be provided with a statutory allocation of resources, similar to the way that the Tobago House of Assembly is funded.
In this way, party politics will no longer determine the flow of resources to local government corporations. Instead they would receive a guaranteed amount of funding annually to provide for the needs of our communities.
The statutory funding for local government corporations will be determined by agreed upon criteria. The Central Statistical Office (CSO) latest Census Data can enable our communities to be mapped. Based on the number of persons living in a community and the age, income, and other factors, the needs of each community can be identified more precisely.