Parliament to focus on campaign financing in new sessionThursday, September 08, 2016
Parliamentarians are expected to return from their summer break for the first meeting of the House of Representatives for the new pre-Christmas session next Tuesday.
Leader of the House Derrick Smith believes that it will be an interesting session, with the Government focusing on a number of issues, including calls for quick implementation of the provisions of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, commonly referred to as the campaign finance Bill.
However, Smith says that he was disappointed with the reaction of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) to the current campaign finance scandal in the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), especially the group’s threat to withhold contributions to political parties until the regulations are in place.
"They could have at least waited until the new session of Parliament starts and see what efforts are made to deal with the regulations and speed up the implementation of the Act," Smith told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
The PSOJ, in a release on Tuesday, said that it has been discussing with members the possibility of withholding contributions to political parties until the amendments are in place.
Smith says that the current Government will be seeking to have the regulations for the Bill completed and tabled in Parliament as quickly as possible.
The PSOJ, in a release Wednesday, said that it was concerned that, although the amendments to the Representation of the People Act providing for party registration and campaign finance regulation were passed from early 2016, the finalisation of the regulations was still outstanding.
"This is unacceptable for any democracy that is serious about transparency in our political process," the PSOJ said as it urged the Government to make it a priority and ensure timely implementation of the amendments.
The PSOJ also called on the Government to publicly provide a timetable for the amendments to be effected.
The PSOJ said it also supports the investigation initiated by the Office of the Contractor General into the scandal, and said that whatever is necessary should be done to bring credibility and transparency to the campaign finance process.
The regulations holding up the implementation of the campaign finance legislation are likely to be tabled in the House of Representatives before Parliament’s next break, scheduled for mid-December.