Campaign financing law toothless

Letters to the Editor

Campaign financing law toothless

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Political parties and candidates need money to publicise their platforms, offer incentives to vote, and inflate their suitableness for political position. The aphorism “whoever has the gold makes the rules” is normative, globally and locally. To limit the influence of money to dictate the decision-making process for who gets elected and what they do when in power is paramount.

The Election Financing Act 2016, the Election Financing Regulation 2017, and the accompanying guidelines regulate campaign financing in Jamaica. According to the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, “It is envisioned that the system will promote accountability and further provide transparency in the outline of partnerships which assist democracy.”

The by-election on April 4, 2019 was the first test of the election financing regulations, and it seems to need some tweaking. The fact that the political parties have 180 days to submit their campaign period financing report is extremely too long. It should have a maximum of 60 days. Such a long time makes the whole process opaque. It makes it more likely that fabricated information is submitted.

Politicians are not known to be impeccably honest. The financing report is less relevant and will have less public scrutiny if too much time has elapsed since the election.

If a political party cannot submit an adequate financing report in 60 days it is not suitable to govern the country.

About 10 months have passed, yet the general public does not known how much each party spent on the by-election. Imagine how toothless the reform will be for a general election.

Brian E Plummer

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