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End monopoly on solid waste management

Claudia Gardner, Hospitality Jamaica Writer

It has been long argued that the perennial problem of improper solid waste management in Jamaica's resort towns and other communities could be alleviated if the responsibility for garbage collection and management is returned to the island's municipal authorities.

The problem was first highlighted in Jamaica's Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development, which was prepared for the Government of Jamaica in 2002 by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The plan challenged the capacity of the Parks and Markets Corporation, (now National Solid Waste Management Authority) to properly manage waste in the island.

"There is an important policy change that must be implemented for the issue of solid waste to be dealt with effectively, and that is to end the monopoly that the parastatal Parks and Markets Corporation enjoys to provide this service. The organisation does not have the resources to fulfil its mandate effectively. Further, the principle of granting a monopoly to an unaccountable, central government organisation to provide local services must be questionable to say the least," the document stated.

"The responsibility for providing local services must lie with the local authority, usually the parish council or in Negril, the Negril Green Island Local Planning Authority and Kingston, Kingston and St Andrew Corporation. The local authority should be free to find the most cost-effective provider of the service, be it the regional Parks and Markets corporation, in-house provision or the selection of private contractors," the Master Plan continued.

The document proposed that funds set aside by the local authorities plus those currently provided by central government to the authority, be pooled to pay for services and that any shortfall in funds could be met through the levying of user charges.

"The selection of the service provider should be through open and transparent public tender," the Master Plan noted. It also recommended the creation of partnerships between the public and private sectors to undertake development and provide public services in the resort areas of Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

"If such resort partnerships are formed, they may well serve as the ideal vehicle for organising the provision of solid waste services. The policy change to remove the monopoly and to empower the local authority remains a prerequisite," it added. 

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