Senate Approves Campaign Financing Bill

Story Highlights

  • A Bill dealing with how individuals and organizations can contribute to political parties and candidates, and stipulations regarding the disclosure of the contributions as well as penalties for false and non-disclosures, was passed by the Senate on January 22.
  • Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, who piloted the Bill, said given the role that money plays in politics, the rationale for reforming electoral campaign financing is to “bolster transparency and accountability” of elected officials.
  • The Bill, ‘Representation of the People (Amendment) Act’, was passed with six amendments.

A Bill dealing with how individuals and organizations can contribute to political parties and candidates, and stipulations regarding the disclosure of the contributions as well as penalties for false and non-disclosures, was passed by the Senate on January 22.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, who piloted the Bill, said given the role that money plays in politics, the rationale for reforming electoral campaign financing is to “bolster transparency and accountability” of elected officials, and to “reduce corruption and improper influence in public life.”

The Bill, ‘Representation of the People (Amendment) Act’, was passed with six amendments. It was approved by the House of Representatives on December 1, last year.

Senator Golding said the safeguards encourage greater confidence in the political process, as “election should reflect the democratic will of the people.”

“Political power must not be bought or sold. We must protect the credibility of political participation in the interest of national development,” the Minister added.

Pointing out that campaign financing is being regulated across the globe, Mr. Golding said that mechanisms which other countries have put in place, include imposition of caps on election spending, prohibitions on certain sources of funding, and the introduction of regimes for disclosure.

Prior to the drafting of the Bill, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), conducted wide consultations with scores of interest groups, and the nominated members of the Commission analysed the concerns, and sought feedback from the political parties.

The Minister told the Senate that both the Government and the Opposition are united in support for the Bill, emphasizing that it “constitutes a quantum leap forward, and will require a very significant change of behaviour on the part of political parties and candidates.”

He called for public education to ensure that stakeholders understand their legal obligations under the new regime, and monitoring and enforcement to make the rules effective, and achieve “greater transparency for the funding of Jamaican elections.”

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