Rates and taxes necessary to enhance extent, quality of works provided – Minister Whittaker
In the past, citizens have criticized Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) for many issues, such as mismanagement of funds and failing to commence and conclude works in a timely manner.
While some of the blame has been shifted to staff at these offices for specific reasons the onus is also on residents in the communities to play their role in the development of their environment.
According to Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Norman Whittaker, he is aware that people have at some point been disappointed about the way in which some of these local government organs have functioned.
However, he explained that residents should not always be quick to judge and blame the RDCs or NDCs without thinking about the situation clearly through and in cases where residents can assist they should.
“Very often, even as we criticize the NDCs for not doing a great role, for not doing some of the things that we would wish them to do, we ourselves do not take the time to find out what it is they do and what assistance you could provide, what support you can provide so that they can do much more and they can do it in a better way,” said Whittaker.
He noted that while Government provides assistance to the 65 NDCs throughout the country in the form of annual subventions, this is $3M for every NDC which totals $195M.
The six municipalities also receive financial assistance over $80M each.
Therefore government provided more than $280M annually to both the NDCs and municipalities.
Minister Whittaker stated that while residents feel that this sum is inadequate especially for the type of works that the NDCs and municipalities have to do, it was never intended that this money be adequate for meeting all the needs of the people in the various communities.
“It was intended that there be collaboration, it was intended that the people, in order to enhance the extent and quality of the services that we provide, people would pay rates and taxes. And believe you me, and we move across the length and breadth of this country on average people pay between 50 to 55 per cent of their rates and taxes that they ought to pay. In some instances people feel that the best things in life are free…”
He also urged that whenever residents complain that the NDCs or other local government organs are not doing some work which they (residents) feel should be done; they should look at the “bigger picture” and see what is actually being done.