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Let's talk about funding ... Interest groups asked to make submission to parliament on operations

Published:Wednesday | February 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Internal and External Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives has extended an invitation to members of the public to make submissions on a Private Member's Motion brought by North East St Elizabeth Member of Parliament Raymond Pryce.

The motion concerns the issue of civil society groups, special-interest groups, and lobby groups being statutorily required to disclose their sources of funding.

"We consider member Pryce's motion extremely important. We note that in recent times, in particular, a lot more civil groups seem to be coming to the fore. We are not sure how genuine some of them are. We expect them to come to the table, and at the end of the exercise, I believe the committee will be in a better position to understand how they operate, why they operate, how they are funded," Derrick Smith, the committee chairman, said.

Written submissions are to be sent to the Houses of Parliament by Friday, February 20, after which the committee will decide who it will invite to appear before it.

"We haven't set a specific time, but the fact that it has been around for so long, it is the feeling of the committee that we should seek to dispatch with it as soon as possible," Smith said, while adding that this is most likely to be dealt with after the Budget Debate.

Pryce, in November 2013, brought a motion to Parliament in which he called for the House to debate the appropriateness and need for legislation in Jamaica that will, at the very least, require civil society groups, special-interest groups, and lobby groups - in keeping with emerging global financial and ethical requirements - to vouchsafe and protect Jamaica's democracy from any such compromise as could be caused by unknown or tainted sources of funds or hidden agendas.