Sat | Aug 19, 2017

PSOJ sets emergency meeting on campaign funding for next Thursday

Published:Friday | September 2, 2016 | 9:00 AMRomario Scott

The powerful Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) is set to hold an emergency meeting to discuss campaign finance reform.

Don Wehby, CEO of the GraceKennedy Group, on Wednesday, called for such discussions to be had.

The Gleaner understands that the meeting has been set for next Thursday.

Concerns have heightened over the last two weeks after a leaked treasurer's report revealed allegations of possible misappropriation of donated funds by some senior People's National Party (PNP) officials.

Claims were also revealed this week of the existence of a kickback arrangement with a Chinese development entity in which monies were to have been collected on behalf of the PNP by an agent nominated by a minister.

 

INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS

 

The allegations were revealed in a missive from former Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies to the PNP General Secretary, Paul Burke.

The Gleaner yesterday reported that some private sector leaders had taken an interest in the matter.

Warren McDonald, president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, called for an independent investigation into the alleged misappropriation of funds that were earmarked for the PNP's central treasury.

But Wehby is adamant that the issue is a matter of urgency and a deeper discussion must be had as "the world is looking at us".

"I have called the PSOJ to express my concerns about what I have been reading, and I think that as a private sector, we need to meet as a matter of urgency," Wehby stated.

Christopher Williams, CEO of Proven Investments, is also of the view that there is need for more discussions on campaign finance.

 

DISCLOSURE EXERCISE

 

He believes that the PSOJ and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce could lead an exercise of disclosure.

"If some of the corporate companies do not want to come out and declare where they made their contribution, the PSOJ could collate the data and publish it. They can then say, 'PNP got this amount and another constituency got that over the period."

In the meantime, Wehby has expressed great disappointment in some of his colleagues in the private sector for not disclosing their contributions to political parties.

The Sunday Gleaner in March reported that companies had disclosed a combined total of J$144 million to both the Jamaica Labour Party and the PNP.

"I am disappointed. I would have hoped that more would have disclosed. I think [if more disclosed], it would set the right example in terms of transparency," Wehby said.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com