JIS News

Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Hon. A.J. Nicholson, has recommended that regulations will have to be drafted to accompany the proposed legislation for campaign financing.

"Looking through the report, it appears to me that regulations would have to be made for the proper implementation of these recommendations," Senator Nicholson said.

Mr. Nicholson, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, was making his contribution to the debate on the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) Report to Parliament on campaign financing, in the Senate, on April 13.

The specific recommendations in the report are set out under the following headings: sources of contributions and donations; impermissible donors; limits on contributions to candidates and political parties; disclosure by candidates and political parties; state funding of election campaigns; national campaign fund; campaign advertising and political broadcast; monitoring and enforcement; and additional capacity for the electoral commission.

Senator Nicholson further noted that both Houses of Parliament would have to scrupulously scrutinise the regulations, so as to proceed in a way that would bring the integrity of the entire framework properly into place.

"So, I just issue a word of encouragement to all concerned that when the time comes the Senate will be looking to find what the regulations are, because legislation of this type cannot be properly implemented without regulations,” he said.

The Senator also emphasised that special attention must be placed on the monitoring and enforcement processes that are outlined in the recommendation.

"Without the required sanctions all will come to nought. I believe that it is time in our governance system in Jamaica that we abandon the 'a nuh nutten' culture. If things go wrong, there must be sanctions,” he added.

The Minister said that all campaign donations should be made public. "That is the only way to ensure that the playing field (is) level. I was led to that view by what took place with the Trafigura episode. If all campaign financing, all donations are made public, there will be no need to delve into people’s accounts to find out what is there," he said.

"or his part, Opposition Senator, Thomas Tavares Finson, said legislating campaign financing is important to the electoral process in Jamaica.

"As a country, we can accept the notion that these reforms are critical in the modern world, to ensure the foundations of the democratic process in Jamaica…as we go forward in this process of continuing electoral reform," Senator Finson said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Senator, Kamina Johnson Smith, said she supported the reform of electoral campaign financing.

"The legislative framework will have to be clear on what is meant by full disclosure and it will have to be clear as well that the ECJ, which is entirely a creature of statute, has the power to request the disclosure that is required," Senator Johnson said.

Minister of Justice, Senator Mark Golding, congratulated the ECJ on the work that has been done in producing the report.

The report was approved by the Senate. The ECJ is also being encouraged to take into consideration the comments and concerns made by Parliamentarians in the debate, and should consider the recommendations in the preparation of drafting instructions (by Cabinet), in finalising legislation on campaign financing.


By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter