Stop funding dons - Commissioners urge politicians to cut support to area leaders
Tackling the deep-rooted issue of garrison politics in Jamaica, the panel of commissioners, whose report into the May 2010 security forces operations in west Kingston is now public, have urged political leaders to commit to ending the allocation of Government's and political parties' resources to dons in order to reduce the influence of these persons.
"In this regard, state funds for use in a constituency (eg. the Constituency Development Fund) should be administered by a representative board rather than at the direction of a member of parliament," the commissioners declared.
At the same time, the report said that resources should be targeted at garrison communities to facilitate the development of skills training programmes and remedial schooling for at-risk youth.
"We are well aware that there is a tendency to regard garrison communities as being specially deprived areas, when, in fact, relative to other poor communities, they tend to be specially favoured in the allocation of state funds. The implementation of this recommendation should, therefore, have regard for and be consistent with the principle of fair allocation of state funds," the commissioners reasoned.
The commissioners said that the Social Development Commission should introduce initiatives to promote and expand the work of youth clubs, sports clubs, and the Boys' Scouts and Girl Guides associations, if this is not currently being done. "Such organisations are useful in promoting character-building and fostering respect for discipline," the report stated.
EQUAL ALLOCATION OF FUNDS
Commenting on the allocation of state resources to constituencies on Thursday, Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives Phillip Paulwell said he and his Government counterpart, Derrick Smith, have proposed that allocations be done on an equal basis for all members of parliament, with the exception of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.
"We feel that a current protocol should be continued so that they will get more than the members of parliament," Paulwell said, adding that the prime minister would get a bigger allocation than the opposition leader "based on the principle of reasonableness".
He argued that at some point in the future, Parliament would have to review how funds are allocated to members of parliament. As part of this discussion, Paulwell said several things would have to be taken into account, such as the size of the constituencies, the number of persons who live in the constituencies and the terrain.
"I think that over time, we will have to concede that not every MP should be allocated the same amount of resources because the needs are quite different in each constituency."
He said the Electoral Commission of Jamaica should play a role in determining some of the issues in relation to sizes of constituencies.