Disclose sources of party funding
THE EDITOR, Sir:
This is an open letter to Richard Byles, president and CEO of Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited.
You may recall that in relation to the December 2011 general election, your firm, along with ICD Group, Bank of Nova Scotia, JMMB and GraceKennedy, disclosed publicly the financial contribution you made to the main political parties contesting that election. You may also recall that the extent of this contribution was published in The Gleaner on December 25, 2011, four days prior to the election.
National Integrity Action commended you then, and we do so once again for taking such a historic step in enhancing transparency in Jamaica's governance arrangements.
During the course of the last four years, NIA, along with other organisations, has consistently advocated changes in our country's electoral law to require more openness in political funding and to bring Jamaica more in line with mature democracies such as the United Kingdom and the United States.
In response to this advocacy and to calls from civil society, the private sector, and many parliamentarians, amendments have now been made to the Representation of the People's Act with the objective of bolstering "the transparency of elected officials" and of reducing "corruption and improper influence in public life, thereby encouraging greater confidence in the political process".
These measures, however, have not yet become law and, in any event, do not require public disclosure. Despite this, your example in 2011 was one important stimulus to the advances now being made.
As such, I am urging you to once again take the lead in public disclosure of your contributions to the parties prior to the February 25 election and, thereby, set the standard that shall encourage other businesses to follow suit, especially in the context of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica having "initiated steps to have its members disclose their funding to political parties and candidates".
Executive Director, NIA