I am absolutely amazed.
For, despite several senators grandstanding and claiming they object to the taxpayers funding political parties, guess what? They approved the amendments to the Representation of the People Act without removing that offensive requirement.
So, soon it will be legal for taxpayers to be pressured further to come up with more money to finance political activity. And I deliberately say “more money” since, as Tom Tavares-Finson reminded us, we already provide a high degree of funding. He gave as an example the last general election, where the money paid to party workers exceeded $50 million. And I am sure he did not take into consideration what goes into parish councillors’ salaries — for they are more beneficial to the PNP and JLP to carry out their party’s activities at the grass roots than they are to us in their divisions.
Further, does anyone ever know how much of the current million-dollar and near-million-dollar telephone bills that some ministers run up annually go into their working in the interest of the country versus private political campaigning?
As far as I am concerned, for the politicians to have passed this amendment is totally unconscionable. And for the public to just ignore the implications is absolutely remarkable. Do Jamaican taxpayers not recognise that in excess of 20 per cent of the population lives in poverty and the constant cry is that Government has no money to help them ease the pain in their bellies? And, if every other deserving organisation, including The Salvation Army which looks after the interest of the poorest among us, has to do its own fund-raising, why shouldn’t the political parties, which history has shown have done so much damage to our economy since Independence without anyone being held responsible for anything?
So now, they are being given free passage to enjoy the privileges of power without any accountability and without them even doing their own fund-raising. According to those who pushed the legislation for taxpayers to bankroll the political parties, this will prevent those with deep pockets who now finance the parties from influencing policy. Ha! Since we are a country notorious for a lack of accountability and transparency, will someone tell me how picking taxpayers’ pockets is going to remedy this malady? Besides, it is apparent that policy in Jamaica is more dictated by the IMF and foreign investors with deep pockets than by rich locals who finance the party of their choice. And this situation will remain as long as we continue to be a beggarly nation as we have been since gaining Independence 52 years ago.
How is this latest legislation, which will only put further financial pressure on the overtaxed population, going to correct this situation?
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