Gov’t in Discussions to Accord Portmore Parish Status


Discussions are underway with the Electoral Commission, the Portmore municipality, the Attorney General’s Department, the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, and the National Land Agency to arrive at a preliminary consensus on the appropriate boundaries of Portmore.
This, as the Government seeks to make good on its promise to establish the municipality as Jamaica’s 15th parish.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding on Tuesday (Nov. 27) informed the House of Representatives on the status of these plans, stating that the government is firmly committed to the designation of Portmore as a parish, based on the size of its population, and its unique characteristics.
He explained that while this can be achieved by an amendment to the Counties and Parishes Act, there are a number of consequential issues that must be addressed in tandem with this legislative change.
Principal among these, the Prime Minister outlined, is the issue of constituency boundaries. He noted that the Constitution stipulates that the boundary of a constituency must not cross the boundary of a parish, as delineated by the Act, and that there must be at least two constituencies in each such parish.
“To give effect to the proposal therefore, it will be necessary to ensure that the delination of the new parish of Portmore, coincides with the boundaries of the constituencies that fall within Portmore,” Mr. Golding said. It is to this end that the discussions on boundaries are being held.
He pointed out that the Electoral Commission is already preparing to undertake a review of constituency boundaries islandwide, and will in due course submit its recommendation to Parliament. “Parliament is obliged under section 67 of the constitution to establish a standing committee on boundaries which can submit a report no earlier than March 2008, but no later than March 2010. As is the custom, it is expected that the standing committee will ratify the recommendation of the electoral commission,” Mr. Golding told the House.
The approach therefore, he said, is to work with the critical agencies, to synchronize the creation of the new parish of Portmore, with the delineation of new constituency boundaries.
According to Mr. Golding, the Attorney General’s Department and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel are currently examining the consequential amendments that may be necessary. In addition, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service is to provide details of residents-based revenue collection, in order to determine the likely division of these revenue flows, between the proposed parish of Portmore and the rest of what is now the parish of St. Catherine.

JIS Social