State Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague, says discussions will be held with mayors and chairmen of Parish Council’s who have divisions that are without local government representation, to decide on a convenient date when elections can be held to fill those vacancies.
The move follows the approval of legislation in the House of Representatives on February 15, to further postpone local government elections to no later than March 31, 2012.
The vacant divisions are: Norbrook, Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation; Spanish Town, St. Catherine Parish Council; Frankfield, Clarendon Parish Council; and Duncans, Trelawny Parish Council.
Mr. Montague, in seeking the postponement, said that the additional time was to allow for implementation of aspects of the Local Government Reform programme; finalise the process leading to the establishment of Portmore as the island’s 15th parish; and to undertake the 2011 Population and Housing Census by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
He told the House that Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, who has portfolio responsibility for Local Government, has instructed that should both Houses of Parliament consent to the postponement, then he should initiate discussions with mayors and council chairmen, as well as the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EoJ), “to set an appropriate date for the holding of elections for the vacant divisions…”.
Mr. Montague advised that STATIN will also be involved in the discussions as the agency has raised concerns that electioneering activities could affect the 2011 Census, scheduled to commence on April 5.
“As a responsible government, we have to take into consideration the needs of these agencies and the needs of having an accurate census, at this time, so that some of the very issues I hear members speaking about can be accurately and adequately provisioned for. We must also be cognisant and…aware that there are persons living in these divisions that crave, demand and want representation,” Mr. Montague contended.
The Bills, “An Act to Postpone the holding of a General Election under the Kingston and St. Andrew Act” and “An Act to Postpone the holding of a General Election under the Parish Councils Act”, will now go before the Senate for deliberations.
CONTACT: DOUGLAS McINTOSH