Minister of Transport and Local Government, Frankie Campbell, encouraged local government to think outside the box and aim for more autonomy while Central Government will seek to leave more revenue collected locally in the district.
“Inadequate funding is the cry throughout the government services and it’s not unique to local government,” Mr. Campbell stated.
“When it becomes necessary for the tightening of the financial belt, that is necessary across the board, and local government falls within that bracket.”
He said he acknowledges that there are certain areas that are severely lacking in funding which led the government to make some minor changes to this year’s the budget.
“We made some provision for the funds for the repairs of administrators houses and offices,” he said.
“We also made some allocation for small capital projects within districts, which is the first time in a long time and that is a step in the right direction,” he added.
Mr. Campbell noted that “even with the constraints we have, that is showing that we are minded to increase where we can and I am satisfied as resources become more available we are going to continue that trend.”
“My government, while in campaign mode, indicated their intent that a percentage of revenue collected by any district would remain in that district,” he said.
“We have not yet agreed on the percentage. It may be necessary for different percentages in different districts based on size and what their needs are, but I assure when it comes to the collection of government revenue we are relentless in pursuit thereof.”
Mr. Campbell said that they would explore any and all opportunities to collect the government’s revenue which he said would enable the government to address those financial concerns.
“We are also encouraging districts to think outside of the box and find creative ways to raise their own funds for pre-approved projects,” he said.
“We are waiting for a district to come to us and say, here is a project we have and here is how it can be funded we seek your approval to keep half, or whatever percentage which is negotiable. And that would be funds we weren’t getting in the first instance, so that district would be in fact helping the consolidated fund while helping themselves,” he explained.
Mr. Campbell reminded that local government is still about persons living in a district being the guardians for their district and having a say in the direction that their district is headed in.
He said that since independence Abaco wanted itself to be independent, “so I call on Abaconians to show that same spirit of independence in addressing local needs.”
“That is what local government was intended to do. Local government and independence are not necessarily one and the same but they do have some similarities,” he said.