Government is being called to tell the nation how much money was spent on the failed campaign by the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, to unseat the Dominica-born Baroness Patricia Scotland as Secretary General of The Commonwealth.
Johnson Smith lost her bid for the top job during last Friday’s vote at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. She polled 24 votes to Scotland’s 27, in a closely contested race that had threatened to divide Caricom.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in the face of criticism, had stoutly defended Johnson Smith’s candidacy since it was announced in a Jamaica House statement in early April.
Since the surprise announcement, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, described Jamaica’s decision as a “monumental mistake” which he said threatened to divide Caricom.
The decision was also criticised by Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
Since she lost, the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has also accused the Holness Administration of dividing Caricom and said they were left with “eggs on their faces”.
Now the party’s spokesman on Finance, Julian Robinson wants the government to tell the country how much was spent on the now failed campaign.
On Tuesday, Robinson tabled questions in the House of Representatives, with the expectation that they will be answered by the prime minister, at the expiration of 21 days.
Holness has been asked the following:
1. a. The total cost of the campaign for Jamaica's candidature for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General;
b. the cost for airfare and accommodation; and
c. the cost for marketing, communications and public relations for the campaign?
2. Confirm if Finn Partners provided public relations, media relations, and thought leadership services for Jamaica's candidature for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General?
3. If the answer to 2 is in the affirmative, would the prime minister state:
a. by whom that company was engaged
b. the duration of the contract
c. the amounts paid and payable to the company under the contract, and
d. the source of the funds to pay the company.
4. Indicate whether the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) received any financial or other support from any other government or non-Jamaican entity in connection with Jamaica's candidacy?
5. If the answer to part 4 is in the affirmative, provide the details of such support?
6. State how many persons from Jamaica (inclusive of the GOJ delegation, media and non-governmental Organisations) travelled to the Commonwealth Heads Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda at taxpayers' expense?
7. Indicate the total cost of Jamaica's participation at the CHOGM in Rwanda?