KINGSTON — The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has brokered an agreement with the two major political parties, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP), regarding recommendations of the Commission’s Report on Campaign Financing.
Making the announcement at a press conference at the ECJ headquarters in Kingston Wednesday (December 7), ECJ Chairman, Professor Errol Miller, said the agreement was in recognition that the full report would not be approved and enacted before the General Election.
The full report was submitted to Parliament on November 27, with several recommendations for the financing of election campaigns, focusing on three elements, namely: Voluntary Agreement on Campaign Financing; Impermissible Donors; Campaign Advertising and Political Broadcasts; and Compliance with the Existing Provisions of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) on Campaign Financing.
Professor Miller noted that the under the first element, the JLP and PNP voluntarily agreed to abide by the recommendations that the parties, and all their candidates and agents, will not accept donations, whether directly or indirectly, from Foreign or Commonwealth Governments, their agents or agencies.
The parties also agreed not to accept donations from public institutions, statutory bodies, government and quasi-government organizations or any company with government capital shares, regardless of the size of such shares; enterprises and other organizations exercising public authority.
Donations which, to the knowledge of the political party, have been passed through an intermediary to disguise the source, or falsely reported in the name of another person or entity, would also not be accepted, in addition to refusing donations from unregulated financial institutions.
In terms of campaign advertising and political broadcasts, Professor Miller said that the two major political parties also agreed to voluntarily comply with the recommendations.
“These recommendations not only involve the political parties, but also media houses. Accordingly, the Commission is in dialogue with the Broadcasting Commission, with respect to consultation with the media houses, to the end that there will be broad-based adherence to these recommendations,” he said.
Turning to the element of Compliance with the Existing Provisions of the ROPA on Campaign Financing, the ECJ Chairman said that the two major political parties have committed to ensuring that all their candidates comply fully with Sections 55 to 61 of the ROPA.
“This includes submitting to Returning Officers full statements of all expenditures made in the conduct of their campaigns. To this end, Parliament (has) increased the limit of expenditure by a candidate from the sum of $3 million set in 1997 to $10 million,” Professor Miller said. The statements are to be published and will also be made available on the Internet.
The House of Representatives on November 22, passed a number of amendments to the ROPA, some of which were based on the Commission’s report, to address governance of the electoral process, as well as operational matters related to the electoral machinery.
Jamaicans will go to the polls on Thursday, December 29. Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the date on Sunday. Nomination Day is Monday, December 12.
The total number of electors on the voters list,as at November 30, is 1,648,036. Some 41,607 electors were added to the list, while 5,636 were deleted. The total number of electors on the previous voters list (May 31, 2011)was 1,612,065.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter