National Election Campaign Fund Bill Proposed In Parliament

Story Highlights

  • It is being proposed that a National Election Campaign Fund be established for persons to make donations towards the country’s electoral process.
  • This is one of the recommended changes in the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2015, which deals with the issue of campaign financing in Jamaica.
  • Opening the debate on the Bill in the House on November 24, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said the Fund will accommodate donors who do not wish to make direct contributions to either political party.

It is being proposed that a National Election Campaign Fund be established for persons to make donations towards the country’s electoral process.

This is one of the recommended changes in the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2015, which deals with the issue of campaign financing in Jamaica.

Opening the debate on the Bill in the House on November 24, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said the Fund will accommodate donors who do not wish to make direct contributions to either political party.

“There are persons who don’t want to contribute directly to either of us (political parties). They are able, in the National Election Campaign Fund, to make contributions which is administered by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ),” he said.

The Minister, who has responsibility for electoral matters, explained that the Fund will receive donations from legal and natural persons as well as Jamaican Diaspora groups.

It is further proposed that the money in the Fund will be disbursed to candidates within 180 days following an election by way of reimbursement of expenses incurred by those candidates in their election campaigns.

Additionally, the money is to be held in the Bank of Jamaica until it is invested or otherwise utilised.

In the meantime, Minister Paulwell said the Bill seeks to implement fundamental and far-reaching reforms to deal with the issue of how electoral campaigns are financed.

“The rationale for reforming campaign finance is the recognition of the need to bolster the transparency and accountability of elected officials and reduce corruption and improper influence in public life, thereby encouraging greater confidence in our political process,” the Minister said.

Mr. Paulwell further noted that the amendments to the Representation of the People Act represent “a historic and indeed timely development.”

“The changes have been long in coming, and for the first time, we are about to witness the insulation, I believe, of our democracy from corruption. Elections must reflect the will of the people; political power must not be bought; confidence in the governance of our country must remain sacrosanct; and at all costs, we must protect the processes that give meaning to full participation and development,” he said.

Other changes that have been proposed under the Bill deal with sources of contributions; permissible and impermissible donors; and spending limits, among others.

The Bill seeks to implement recommendations set out in the report on campaign financing prepared by the EOJ.

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