JIS News

The House of Representatives passed two Bills Tuesday (June 15) postponing Local Government elections for at least six months.
The Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation General Election (Postponement) Act 2010 and the Parish Councils General Election (Postponement) Act, both piloted by Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Hon. Robert Montague, were approved.
The elections, which should have been held by June 30, have been postponed and are to be held no later than March 30, 2011.
Among the reasons given in the Bills for the postponement were: the state of emergency now in effect in the Corporate Area, which may be extended beyond the initial prescribed period; the ongoing Local Government reform programme, of which significant elements are yet to be put into effect; and the proposed establishment of Portmore as the fifteenth parish, which has not yet been finalised.
Opposition Spokesperson on Local Government Reform, Colin Fagan, stated that he was not surprised at the decision to postpone the elections.
“From as early as March this year, I had said that the Government was not going to call any Local Government elections,” Mr. Fagan said.
Leader of Opposition Business in the Lower House and Member of Parliament for St. James South, Derrick Kellier, suggested that the establishment of Portmore as the 15th parish should not be a reason for the postponement of the elections.
“Portmore being designated a Parish can take another five years. Are we saying that until that is done that reason will still stand for the continuous seeking of the postponement of the elections?” Mr. Kellier said.
In his response, Mr. Montague noted that the Government is on record giving a commitment to having Portmore as the fifteenth parish.
“The redefining of the electoral boundaries is not yet complete, and therefore the people of Portmore would be at a disadvantage at this time,” Mr. Montague explained.
Local Government elections are normally held every three years, no later than in the month of June, as the Governor-General in Council appoints.