Jamaica News: The Social Development Commission (SDC) is encouraging all community groups and civil society organisations to prepare themselves for registration with the Commission, in order to access benefits under the local governance framework outlined in the Local Governance Act, 2016.
“Don’t wait until we have begun registration then you are trying to meet the criteria. We appeal to community-based organisations, community development committees (CDCs) and parish development committees (PDCs) to put themselves in a place of readiness just to ensure that they can be registered,” said Director of the Governance Division at the SDC, Sherine Francis.
Mrs. Francis told JIS News that under the current registration phase, the majority of the PDCs have already registered as either benevolent societies or companies. Smaller community groups and civil society organisations will be registered in the next phase.
The PDC is an umbrella structure that brings together the network of organisations, interest groups and agencies that exist within a parish, such as citizens’ associations, youth clubs and sports and agricultural groups. PDCs were relaunched in November 2018 and made an integral part of decision-making in local governance.
The SDC acts as the coordinator and registrar for such groups to be formally recognised in the local governance framework and assists them in preparing to fulfil their roles.
Registration fee of $15,000.00 per group covers the first year’s audit and training with SDC. Training covers the areas of financial management, the Local Governance Act, their roles and responsibilities and the development of their constitution within a provided template.
“Not only are we forming them, building their capacity and getting them to a place where they can also do advocacy, but it means that we will also give them the legal personality within which to operate in the governance framework in Jamaica. So, we have been doing a series of sensitisation sessions with the parishes, making them aware that it’s very important that they consider their registration option and get registered with the SDC, because of the benefits that would be available to them,” Mrs. Francis said.
One such benefit is access to grant funding through the SDC as they work to ensure that strong and functional groups participate in local governance.
This financial year, $20 million has been allocated to the SDC’s Community Incentive and Grants Programme, and groups have already begun benefiting from this.
“Each PDC, with the exception of Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. James, has received the first tranche of $250,000. The grant is used to support their administrative functions,” explained Mrs. Francis.
The next parish sensitisation session is set for Clarendon on August 8, with others scheduled for St. Ann, and Kingston and St. Andrew on August 19 and 22, respectively.
To obtain a Certificate of Registration, parish and community development committees will need to submit to the SDC their constitution, financial statement, action plan, list of members, register and minutes of last three meetings, project folder and assessment certificate.
Once issued, Certificates of Registration are valid for as long the group remains compliant with the regulations of the Local Governance Act.
Source: JIS News
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