Fixed election date and environmental concerns
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealed in his 2016/17 Budget presentation that he has given instructions to the justice ministry to draft and present legislation to Parliament in short order to fulfil the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) election promise to fix Jamaica's election date. As is, it is the prime minister's prerogative to determine our election date.
The Government should consider National Heroes Day, celebrated on the third Monday in October, as election day for both parliamentary and local elections. Election day would not replace National Heroes' Day, but would merely be held on that date.
The newly elected Government after any such elections should be sworn in on the first Monday in December, allowing for a reasonable period for smooth transition.
EXERCISE THEIR FRANCHISE
Election day should be a national holiday that allows as many of our people as possible free time to exercise their franchise, which may serve to increase voter participation. The law currently provides that employers allow their employees time off to vote; however, as a national holiday, many more people would have the time and opportunity to participate.
The JLP has reminded that it takes the environment seriously, even as it takes steps to foster a more conducive environment for the creation of meaningful job opportunities for our people.
The Government should consider breaking up the National Environment and Planning Authority (NEPA) and creating an Environmental Protection Authority or Agency (EPA), whose mandate would be as the name suggests, and which would work closely with the local planning authorities in approving development projects. As is, NEPA appears to not be as serious in balancing the interests of the environment and development, or is not as authoritative where matters of the environment are concerned. As head of the new EPA, a long-time environmental advocate such as Diana McCauley or Peter Espeut should be considered.
KEVIN K.O. SANGSTER