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Minister of State for Local Government, Robert Montague, on (Feb 15) successfully moved two bills in Parliament to postpone local government elections for a year. The bills which were passed after more than three hours of debate will now go to the Senate.

Minister Montague said that the government’s decision to postpone the elections considered, among other matters, the effect that elections would have on the national census which starts in April.

Reading an excerpt of a letter from the Director General of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) to the Prime Minister, Mr. Montague said, “The census is an important national exercise in which there is a great financial investment and it would be unwise for the results to be compromised in any way. The planning for the census is well advanced as we are scheduled to begin data collection on April 5. In the past, and particularly in census 2001, the pre election activities posed a great challenge for data collection as there was a difficulty in differentiating between the two processes: electioneering and data collection for the census."

Mr. Montague said that if the motion was passed in the Senate, he would start discussions with the Electoral Council, STATIN, Mayors and Chairmen of Councils to set an appropriate date for the holding of elections for four vacant parish council divisions.

The census is taken every ten years and the data are used for national development decisions such as where to build schools and hospitals and develop roads.

 

Issued by: The Office of the Prime Minister