THE Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) says the Government has already spent $250 million on activities related to a general election that has not yet been held, and that a significant portion of those funds have gone down the drain. Opposition-nominated ECJ Commissioner, Senator Tom Tavares-Finson made the claim yesterday during the debate on a Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act (2015) to reform the way political parties are financed. He told the Upper House that: “We fully recognise that the prime minister has the constitutional right to call an election whenever she decides to do so within the constitutional limit (and) the electoral commission takes signals from what is said publicly and privately submitted a budget for an election which was anticipated to be held before the end of 2015. As a result, monies were presented to the Electoral Commission and from the sum presented so far, $250 million has been spent. A significant portion of that money has been lost because it has been used for training of workers, rental (of property) and so on.”
Senator Tavares-Finson explained that the monies were considered “lost” because persons who had been identified and trained to work within an anticipated time frame may not be available when elections are called.
“A number of persons, for example, were drawn from teacher’s colleges; they may find themselves available in November or December but may not be available in other months. A number of properties for which rental has been put up, may or may not be available,” he stated.