POLITICAL LAWBREAKERS ... More that half of candidates yet to disclose election spending
Nearly four years after the parliamentary election of 2011, less than half of the 150 candidates who contested the polls have filed returns of election expenses to returning officers for the constituencies in which they were candidates.
The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has released data, on The Gleaner's request, that revealed that 80 of the 150 candidates have flouted the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) as they have not filed the returns. By law, the returns must be made six weeks after the election.
Only 70 of the 150 candidates from the People's National Party (PNP), the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), third parties, and independents have filed. The bulk of the delinquencies are from the JLP. The ECJ disclosed that of the 63 JLP candidates, 45 have failed to file returns.
17 pnp candidates did not file
In the case of the PNP, 17 of its 63 candidates in the 2011 election failed to file returns.
There were 24 candidates listed in the categories of third parties and independent members, with six having filed and 18 still outstanding.
On March 30, 2012, the Electoral Office of Jamaica published the names of 74 candidates it says are yet to file their returns. It then reduced the list to 70, saying that four of the candidates had submitted their returns to its divisional offices before the March 16 deadline.
Yesterday, North West St Andrew Member of Parliament Derrick Smith acknowledged that he had not filed his return and said he intended to do so as soon as possible.
"I usually comply with all the requirements, but this was an obvious oversight," Smith told The Gleaner.
Lloyd B not sure
Central St James Member of Parliament Lloyd B. Smith was named by the EOJ in March 2012 as being among the PNP candidates who had not filed returns. Yesterday, Smith said he could not recall whether he had since done so. He also said that the financial aspects of his campaign were not dealt with by him.
The ROPA stipulates that a candidate contesting an election shall, within six weeks of election day, submit to the Electoral Commission a consolidated report, in the prescribed form, detailing all contributions/donations received within the campaign period.
The law also says that every return shall contain a full statement under the appropriate head specified in the return of ail expenditure incurred in connection with the election by or on behalf of the candidate by whose election agent the return is made and shall be supported by vouchers for all payments in excess of $4.
The general secretaries of both major political parties told The Gleaner that they were not aware that some of their members had failed to file the reports.
"This is news to me," said Paul Burke, the head of the PNP Secretariat.
"I will need to make some checks on this issue," he said.
JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang said that he was not aware that members of the JLP had been delinquent.
"This is unacceptable," he said. "This is the responsibility of each candidate and something that should have been done immediately after each election."
He said some candidates who rely on the resources from political parties do not believe that they should file returns because of little or no campaign expenditure on their part.
Chang said that a public education system must be put in place to prevent sanctions attracted by the failure to comply with the law.