The Hon. Robert Montague is better known to many of us in Local Government circles through his dynamism and vocal expressions as former Mayor of Port Maria and Chairman of the St. Mary Parish Council, since 2003. Mr. Montague has a long history of service, having been a Councillor for 18 years. During his tenure in the St. Mary Parish Council, Minister Montague also held the chair of the St Mary Environmental Protection Committee, Director of the St. Mary Co-op Credit Union, Distinguished President of the Kiwanis Club of St Mary and Distinguished Lieutenant Governor.
Mr. Montague's professional/academic background is in agronomy. He is also involved in a number of companies including being President of the Suntel Corporation.
Mr. Montague's transitions into the portfolio of Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government affairs, gave him an even more strengthened voice on the direction and path of local governance at the local level in Jamaica.
Being the visionary he is and the fierce urgency of the reform process, Mr. Montague's focus was to make the shift from local government to local governance underpinned by an informed citizenry. Consequent on this, he identified some key areas that would put the reform process on an irreversible path. These included:
Entrenching local government in the Jamaican constitution, a process that is well underway.
Identifying and reviewing some key pieces of legislations that will form the local government act which when completed will fast track other processes.
Introducing e-governance through the digital town hall concept, the prototype is at the St. Mary Parish Council.
Strengthening the autonomy of the councils by returning some of their core functions.
Putting Councillors on the order of precedence for state and official functions and strengthening the community based organizations.
Increasing the training of councillors to improve capacity in delivering quality service to citizens.
He launched the Indigent Housing Fund in which he appealed for voluntary assistance for repairs to housing for the registered poor and those on the paupers roll only. This initiative gained much traction in response from churches and individuals across the island.
one of his international assignments and portfolio included being Chairman of the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Ministers (CFLGM). In 2007 he was also Chairman of the international body - the Commonwealth Local Government forum (CLGF). However, as a result of his appointment as a Minister of Government in September 2007, he had to step down from this position but still sits on the CLGF Board. Mr. Robert Montague also held the position of Vice President of the Hemispheric Ministers responsible for Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen participation (RIAD) in the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Mr. Montague was committed to strengthening the partnership between spheres of government that is central and local government, as well as tapping into the vast reservoir of potential from the Diaspora.