Portmore residents should decide via referendum whether the municipality should become Jamaica's 15th parish - GoldingSunday, October 17, 2021
Residents of the dormitory community of Portmore, St Catherine should decide whether they want the municipality to become Jamaica's 15th parish and should do so via a referendum.
That is the position articulated by Opposition Leader and President of the People's National Party (PNP), Mark Golding. He made the argument while addressing the party's 83rd annual conference which was delayed from last month and which was held virtually for the first time because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Golding also accused the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) of wanting to “split off Portmore as a separate parish from St Catherine because it would suit their political ends”.
“But will this benefit the people of Portmore?”Golding asked.
He noted that unlike other parishes, Portmore was lacking in key facilities/amenities such as a hospital, cemetery, market and parish courts.
“Yet the government is rushing to make Portmore a parish without any of those things in place.
“Why does the Jamaica Labour Party want to make Portmore the only parish without those facilities?” said Golding.
He said the position of the PNP is that the people of Portmore must be consulted fulsomely on any such move.
"Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to go that route must be theirs via a referendum. Let the people decide, don't leave it to the politicians," Golding declared.
The PNP president noted that residents of Portmore now have the benefit of it being Jamaica's only municipality which gives them the legal right to directly elect their own mayor…a right that does not extend to any other parish.
"Why would want to deprive them of that right?” he stated.
In September, the joint select committee of Parliament reviewing the proposal for Portmore to become the country's 15th parish approved the plan. That plan is now being fine-tuned before it is sent to the Parliament for final approval.
While the plan was approved, there was no input from the parliamentary opposition as most of its members were absent from the committee meeting where the approval was given.