POPULATION (Census 2011): 2,697,983
AREA: 10,991 sq km
CURRENCY: Jamaican dollar (JMD)
HEAD OF STATE: HM Queen Elizabeth II
GOVERNOR-GENERAL: Sir Patrick Allen
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: Prime Minister Andrew Holness
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM: bicameral
STATE STRUCTURE: unitary
LANGUAGES: English (official), Jamaican patois (recognised)
NATIONAL ELECTIONS: last: 2016 turnout: na next: 2021
LOCAL ELECTIONS: last: 2012 turnout: 34.7% next: due 2015 but postponed
WOMEN COUNCILLORS: 19% (2012)
LOCAL GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE (as a percentage of total government
expenditure 2013/14): na
Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy with two spheres of government, national and local. Local government was entrenched in the constitution by the passing of the Constitution (Amendment) (Local Government) Act in July 2015. The main governing legislation for local authorities comprises the Parish Councils Act 1887, the Kingston City Corporation Act 1923 and the Municipalities Act 2003. The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development provides oversight for the 14 local authorities. The current configuration of local authorities in Jamaica consists of 12 parish councils, one municipal corporation – the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) – and a second tier municipal council, Portmore Municipal Council (PMC), which falls within the parish of St Catherine. Local authorities are empowered to raise revenue via user fees, by-law penalties, trade licences and property taxes. They also benefit from ad-hoc, conditional transfers from central government. Local government is responsible for parish infrastructure and poor relief and shares responsibility with central government for a range of services including water supply, environmental health and local economic development.
The Association of Local Government Authorities of Jamaica (ALGAJ) is the representative organisation responsible for the interests and welfare of local government authorities. It also seeks to advance local government in general. Its membership is drawn from councillors and the mayors of all 14 local authorities.
There are three laws in various stages of development which will strategically impact the local government system in Jamaica. The Local Government Unified Services and Employment Bill and the Local Government Financing and Financial Management Bill are with the Attorney General’s Office, while the Local Governance Bill is still being developed. Legislation is also being developed that will provide for a unified service in which one commission will be responsible for local government personnel.
Read the profile of the local government system in Jamaica.
CLGF activities in Jamaica
CLGF will continue to work with The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, The Association of Local Government Authorities of Jamaica (ALGAJ) and other partners as it takes forward the EC funded project “Strengthening local government’s role as a partner in development” focused on strengthening the role of local government and other local and national actors in localising and implementing the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).