Government is expecting that the re-launch of Parish Development Committees (PDCs) to help improve community participation in Local Government.
The PDCs were re-launched earlier this month under the new participatory governance framework, mandated in the Local Governance Act, 2016.
Under the Act, PDCs are now an integral part of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, with the SDC functioning as the facilitator and regulator of all committees.
The re-launch of the PDCs is seen as critical in the reform of local governance by increasing citizen engagement in the decision-making process and development of their communities.
“The PDCs give the common man an opportunity to represent their views at the municipal corporation because it is the PDCs that sit on the committees of the municipal corporation,” says Director of the Governance Division at the Social Development Commission (SDC), Sherine Francis.
Prior to 2016, PDCs had varying levels of participation in the then Parish Councils with some providing reports at monthly council meetings and taking on projects of the Councils. However, for the greater part of the last two years they have been in hiatus or a state of inactivity as their functions and governance structure were being readjusted.
Ms. Francis says “What we want to do with this relaunch is what we call institutionalising the role of the PDCs in local and national development as recognised in the Act.”
She notes that the PDCs have been instrumental in ensuring that the issues or challenges faced by communities are being addressed by the local authorities. “There are a number of PDCs right across Jamaica that are doing very good work in different areas,” she says.
The SDC is mandated to monitor and audit each PDC to ensure their adherence to the stipulated operational guidelines.
The commission will also administer the grant, which was established to support the PDCs’ administrative functions.
Each PDC is eligible for a $1 million in quarterly disbursements, once they apply to the SDC and meet the requisite criteria.
Details of the functions and requirements of critical stakeholders are listed in the Local Governance Partnership Agreement signed by portfolio Minister, Desmond McKenzie; Executive Director of the SDC, Dr. Dwayne Vernon; and all Mayors and PDC Chairpersons, at the re-launch.
By: Franklin McKnight