Electoral Commission Engages Public in Talks on Campaign Financing


Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), Professor Errol Miller says the public’s input is being sought in drafting the final proposal regarding campaign financing for political parties.
He notes that the ECJ’s proposals, in this regard, are subject to review, and as such public participation was key in determining the composition of the final document of recommendations. To this end, the organization is staging a series of public fora islandwide to solicit public input. Professor Miller points out, however, that the ECJ is not trying to find the perfect proposal as obtains in the United Kingdom, but which is yet to be instituted in that jurisdiction.
He was speaking at the third in a series of fora on ‘Campaign Financing for Jamaican Political Parties’ at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Thursday (July 17), sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Institute in association with the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EoJ) and the ECJ.
“The meetings we are having across the country represent our last attempt to get input before we present the report to Parliament, which we hope to do in September,” Professor Miller said, underscoring the importance of the public’s contributions.
“Under the convention that has developed over the years, whatever is presented to Parliament as the views of the ECJ, is passed into law without change,” he explained.
Some 100 persons representing a wide cross section of the society attended the Knutsford Court Hotel forum. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil servants, and political party workers, who also participated, voiced their suggestions, and discussed recommendations already proposed.
Several suggestions were also forthcoming from members of civil society, which were entertained by the forum’s presenters. These, along with other recommendations, will be presented to Parliament by Chair of the Campaign Financing and Political Party section of the EOJ – Dorothy Pine-McLarty.
The suggestions from the audience ranged from the need to set limits on the sum each political candidate should be allowed to spend, to the amount an individual or company can contribute to a party or individual. One of the suggestions was that the proposed cap of $5 million that each candidate should be allowed to spend, be increased to $7 million.
The specific objectives of the fora, include promoting the understanding of existing legislation in the Representation of the People’s Act (ROPA) in relation to the recognition of political parties; facilitating broad dissemination and public discussions of the amendments proposed, as well as the recommendations in respect of the legislation for campaign financing; and dialogue on issues relevant to party financing and legislation.
Public fora have so far been held in Kingston, Montego Bay, and Port Antonio. The final forum will be held in Mandeville at the Northern Caribbean University on Thursday, July 24 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

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