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Solar power for markets in Jamaica

Former Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government Robert Montague has proposed the use of solar energy in food markets operated by Westmoreland Parish Council, to generate more revenue and realise savings on their energy bill, while eliminating electricity theft.

“When you look at some markets, it is dark and uninviting. Put some translucent roof sheets, and allow (sun)light to come through the market, and install a solar panel, and you can run the markets on that system. That way you come off the Jamaica Public Service Company system,” said Montague, who is the minister of agriculture and fisheries.

With this system, he explained that unauthorised persons would not have an opportunity to capitalise on the use of the amenity at the expense of the local authority.

“That is why you should go solar in the markets, so you will not have a problem with stealing. Once the solar panel runs out of battery power, that’s it, no more electricity to generate for unauthorised use,” Montague said during the council’s financial retreat at Riu Hotel and Resort in Montego Bay last Friday.

The retreat, which was held under the theme: ‘Strategies to Achieve Self-Financing’, was held within the context that under the Local Government Reform programme, it will become mandatory in September 2011 for municipal authorities to finance 30 per cent of their budget from income-generating activities.

Other suggestions

As such, the Westmoreland Parish Council convened a workshop to focus on finding strategies to realise this target. In addition to solar energy, Montague suggested that the parish council could offer the roof of the Savanna-la-Mar market as an advertising space to generate income for the municipality. The council also operate markets in Grange Hill and Darliston.

Although the minister was transferred to the agriculture ministry following his four-year stint in the local-government post, he offered some suggestions to his colleagues on ways to boost revenue at the local authority.

The suggestions include recycling; charging for signs on business establishments; utilising funds that are left over from each councillor’s budget; reviewing rental charges of parish council properties; applying administrative fees to services and collect fees for trade licences.

Category/ies:Jamaica News.
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